Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unknown Shrub, Witch-hazel

Can you identify this shrub for me?

For years, I have admired this nicely formed shrub that grows at the edge of the woods and pastures. It receives only partial sun and typically is 2-3 feet tall.

Photo: November 5, 2008

The leaves turn a pretty red-orange and have an interesting shape.

Photo: November 5, 2008

On another shrub, the leaves were almost gone so the berries were more prominent. The red berries are very similar to spicebush but are in these drooping clusters. Birds will eat these berries before those of the spicebush. When I checked today, the berries and leaves were gone.

Can you identify this shrub?

Photo: November 5, 2008

As I walked back up our road, I noticed that the Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) tree was blooming. The yellow flowers are not very conspicuous as you can see in this photo.

Photo: November 12, 2008

The Witch-hazel is an understory tree that is fairly common in our woods and a favorite of the Wood Thrush bird for their nests. The leaves are aromatic and can be used to make astringent lotions. Some old timers use the forked branch of the Witch-hazel branch to detect underground water.