Hamamelis virginiana

Common Witchhazel




  • native to eastern and central United States
  • zone 4, possibly 3
  • an understory small tree or shrub of deciduous forests

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous small tree or large shrub
  • 10' to 15' tall in most instances
  • can reach 30' tall
  • nearly as wide as tall
  • develops an irregular, but rounded outline
  • loose an somewhat open, but attractive
  • multi-stemmed

Summer Foliage

  • alternate, simple leaves
  • obovate to elliptical with uneven base
  • leaves are 3" to 6" long; 2" to 3.5" wide
  • margins of leaves are coarsely toothed
  • bright to dark green
  • clean and attractive
  • new leaves emerge reddish-bronze

Autumn Foliage

  • clear yellow
  • often quite showy


  • spider-like with 4 narrow, crinkled petals
  • yellow
  • light, spicy fragrance
  • the last woody plant to flower
  • bloom time is October and November after foliage drop


  • 0.5" long capsule
  • capsules take 1 year to mature
  • seeds are expelled explosively from the capsules in fall


  • smooth gray to gray brown


  • full sun to partial shade
  • prefers a moist, cool, acidic soil
  • somewhat pollution tolerant

Landscape Use

  • borders
  • naturalistic areas
  • for late fall bloom effect and fragrance
  • shady areas
  • for fall color of foliage


  • horned gall on foliage caused by an eriopyid aphid
  • relatively trouble-free

ID Features

  • fall bloom
  • yellow spider-like flowers
  • naked buds
  • buds and twigs densely pubescent
  • flower buds not present
  • uneven leaf at base


  • by seed
  • cuttings are difficult
  • can be grafted for vegetative propagation


There are currently no commercial selections of this fine hardy native, but reports indicate that some forms may be introduced that drop their foliage before the initiation of flowering in fall.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.