American hazelnut

(Corylus americana)

Conservation Status
American hazelnut
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


American hazelnut is a fast-growing, deciduous shrub rising on numerous stems from large, horizontal rhizomes usually 4 to 6 below the surface of the soil. It often forms a dense, rounded clump that can reach up to 30 in diameter in favorable conditions. It sometimes forms thickets.

The stems are slender, straight, and sparsely branched. They are usually 5 to 10 tall, but mature stems can reach up to 15 in height and 1¼ in diameter at breast height. Outer stems become arching and spreading with age.

The bark on young stems is light grayish-brown, shiny, and smooth. On mature stems the bark is somewhat rough, sometimes with finely grooves or ridges. It is not shaggy or peeling. The branches are ascending.

First-year twigs are slender and tan to dark brown. They are covered with long, spreading hairs that are red when young, whitish later; and with stalked glands (glandular hairs) that are visible without magnification. They are sticky to the touch. They sometimes become almost hairless near the end of the first season. Second-year twigs are zigzag and hairless. The buds are broadly egg-shaped, about to long and wide, brownish-gray, and unstalked. They are covered with 4 to 6 scales. The outer bud scales are not deciduous, remaining attached throughout the season. Winter buds are rounded, not angled, at the tip. Flower buds and leaf buds are similar in size and appearance. Leaf scars are small and flat or slightly raised, not depressed. They have 3 bundle scars.

The leaves are alternate, broadly egg-shaped to broadly elliptic or broadly inversely egg-shaped, 2 to 4¾ long, and 1 to 3 wide. They are attached to the twigs by ¼ to ¾ long leaf stalks. The leaf stalk is covered with long, spreading hairs that are red when young, whitish later, and with glandular hairs that are visible without magnification. It is not sticky or resinous. The leaf blade tapers to a sharp point at the tip and is heart-shaped or rounded at the base. It often has straight sides, giving it a squarish appearance, and is occasionally slightly lobed near the tip. There are 6 to 9 lateral veins on each side of the midrib. The lateral veins are sometimes branched. The upper blade surface is dark green and sparsely hairy. The lower surface is paler green, felty to the touch, and covered with soft, spreading hairs, especially along the larger veins. The margin is irregularly doubly toothed with sharp, forward-pointing teeth. In the fall the leaves turn yellow to orange.

Male and female flowers are borne on the same branch. Male flowers appear in late summer singly or in pairs, sometimes in clusters of 3. They are green, slender, cylindrical, drooping clusters of many flowers (catkins). They droop from the leaf axils of twigs of the previous year on woody, to long stalks. They turn brown in the winter. In the early spring they become yellowish and elongate, becoming 1 to 2¾ long. The longer male catkins are at least 1½ long. They shed their pollen in late March to early May.

Female flowers are much smaller, compact, reddish-brown catkins that resemble leaf buds. They are concealed by overlapping scales with only the elongated, bright red stigma and styles exposed. They are subtended by a minute bract and a pair of bractlets. The bractlets get much larger with age, becoming the husk of the fruit.

The fruits appear singly or in clusters of usually 2 or 3, sometimes 4 or 5. Each fruit is an edible nut enclosed in a leaf-like husk with a short, broad fringe at the end. The husk is ¾ to 1 long, to 13 16 wide, extending 3 16 to ¾ beyond the nut. It is no more than 2 times as long as the fruit. The fruit is sometimes visible. The husk is covered with both glandular hairs and soft, nonglandular hairs. The nut is more or less globe-shaped and to in diameter. It is enclosed in a hard shell. The fruit matures in late August to late September.




5 to 15


Flower Color


Yellowish male catkins in spring


Similar Species

  Beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) leaf stalks and first year twigs do not have stalked glands. Mature male catkins are shorter, no more than 1 long. The husk surrounding the nut forms a long, narrow tube, not a short, broad fringe. The nut is completely concealed by the husk.  

Dry to moist. Upland deciduous and coniferous forests, especially oak, aspen, and pine forest. Full or partial sun.




Late March to early May


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Common and abundant

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fagales (beeches, oaks, walnuts, and allies)  


Betulaceae (birch)  
  Subfamily Coryloideae  


Corylus (hazels)  
  Section Corylus  
  Subsection Corylus  

Subordinate Taxa






Corylus americana var. indehiscens


Common Names


American filbert

American hazel

American hazelnut
















Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



A small, often secondary bract within an inflorescence; a bract that is borne on a petiole instead of subtending it.



A slim, cylindrical, drooping cluster of many flowers. The flowers have no petals and are either male or female but not both.


Glandular hairs

Hairs spread over aerial vegetation that secrete essential oils. The oils act to protect against herbivores and pathogens or, when on a flower part, attract pollinators. The hairs have a sticky or oily feel.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

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    American hazelnut   American hazelnut  
    American hazelnut      


    American hazelnut      

Male Catkins

    American hazelnut   American hazelnut  


    American hazelnut   American hazelnut  
    American hazelnut      


    American hazelnut      

Prominent Veins on Leaf Underside

    American hazelnut      


    American hazelnut      


    American hazelnut   American hazelnut  
    American hazelnut      






Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Edible Nuts:Hazelnut
Blanche Cybele Derby

Published on Sep 26, 2013 Hazelnut ("Corylus americana") is shrub in the birch family that produces tasty nuts in late summer/early fall. They can be used raw or cooked in smoothies, drinks, baked goods or in other ways. Be sure to check out MIWilderness' YT channel for his vid on hazelnut.

  American & Beaked Hazel with John Latimer

Uploaded on Apr 13, 2010

KAXE Phenologist John Latimer talks about American Hazel and Beaked Hazel. While easy to tell apart in late summer, it's harder to differentiate between them in the Spring. At this time of year, the male flower of the Beaked Hazel is fat and slightly curved whereas the American Hazel is longer and generally straight. Also, the new growth on the American hazel is very hairy, and the Beaked Hazel new growth is smooth.

  Hazelnut Harvest ( Part One )

Uploaded on Aug 13, 2010

Picking Hazelnuts!




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Location: Fairview Twp.

American hazelnut  

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