South Dakota Native Plant Research
Betulaceae: Corylus americana

Betulaceae: Corylus americana


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Family Name


Common Name

America hazelnut

Native American Name

Lakota: úmahu


Corylus americana is a perennial, monoecious shrub that grows, from rhizomes to a height of roughly 2.5- 5 m with a crown spread of 3- 4.5 m. Plants are usually multi-stemmed with long branches that produce a dense spreading shape and form thickets by sending up suckers from the underground rhizomes. The young twigs are hairy-glandular. The petiolate leaves are simple, alternate, the blades ovate, pointed at the tip and rounded or heart shaped at the base, 1-12 cm long, doubly toothed and hairy underneath. Male flowers present in the winter and bloom very early in the spring in long (4-8 cm) cylindrical stalked, whitish catkins having numerous crowded flowers, each having a pair of bracts and 4 stamens. The female flowers emerge before the leaves in ovoid brownish catkins of few flowers, with the red styles becoming visible. The fruit are nuts that are solitary or clustered, each enveloped in expanded leafy bracts. America hazelnut grows in upland forests and thickets along the edge of the coteau des prairies in eastern South Dakota.

Additional Notes

America hazelnut is an easy-to-grow native shrub that produces edible nuts in late summer. They make attractive hedges and windbreaks, green in the summer and yellow-bronze in the fall. The nuts are a favorite of squirls.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed in mid-late summer when the edges of the husks begin to turn brown.

Germination: Fall sowing will produce seedlings in the late spring. Scarifying (scoring the seeds with a file) will improve germination.

Vegetative Propagation: Transplant root suckers.

Soils: Well-drained sandy to clay soils with a rich organic composition.

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Dry to moist

Betulaceae: Corylus americana