The hazel is a small tree, usually coppiced and therefore has multiple stems. A single, maiden tree that has not been coppiced (a standard) can live for about 60 years, but coppiced can live up to 500!

The leaves are arranged alternately around a stem, round in shape, and broadest near the tip. The leaf is hairy on the underside and on the stalk and is noticeably toothed.

 Hazel leaf

The male and female flowers are found on the same tree. The yellow male catkins open in early spring – sometimes known as "lambs tails".

Hazel Male catkins

The female flowers appear on the same branches as small pink/crimson tufts. Fertilised flowers may develop into brown nuts in the autumn (though squirrels often eat them before they ripen).

Hazel, female flowers

The young bark can show signs of peeling.

 hazel bark

 Developing hazel nuts:

 Hazel nuts

Later enjoyed by dormice!

 Nuts eaten by dormice

Comments on this article

Helen MacGregor 18 May, 2011

Lovely photographs! And an interesting site - thank you.

Sandy Coppins 28 June, 2011

Hi - I like your site, clearly laid out and informative. However, this is a very 'English' take on hazel. Hazel in western Scotland is multi-stemmed, but in many areas has never been coppiced - it is a naturally-occurring multi-stemmed shrub. see http://www.snh.gov.uk/about-scotlands-nature/habitats-and-ecosystems/woodland/
This website explores the biodiversity and ancientness of some of the western Scottish hazelwoods. Just a thought. Enjoy.

Tracy 19 January, 2012

Hi Sandy
We look forward to hearing more from you for our website on the Scottish hazel

Jeanette 5 April, 2012

I think the statement "A single, maiden tree that has not been coppiced (a standard) can live for about 60 years, but coppiced can live up to 500!" is a little misleading!

It may be true if hazel is forced to grow as a maiden (perhaps if the wood is heavily grazed). More usually (in Scotland anyway) the stool will put up new stems every year and it will develop a naturally multi-stemmed form. This can continue indefinitely - the individual stems may be no older than 20 or 30 year old, but the stool could be hundreds of years old. There's no need for coppicing - hazel just does this naturally.

Jeanette 5 April, 2012

You can find out more about Scottish hazel at http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B846053.pdf

Jay Templin 2 January, 2013

I see a lot of information about coppicing trees that have already been coppiced. Everybody keeps talking about the stool. I live in Virginia, USA, and nobody has ever coppiced my woods; how do I start? We have planted some hazel and are planning to plant more this year; how do I turn virgin trees into coppice? Can you point me toward any good sources of information?

Jane Burrett, UK 4 March, 2013

Dear Jay Templin
A small group of volunteers in Oxfordshire has regenerated a remnant of hazel copse which had been neglected for 70+ years as most of the rest of the hazel had disappeared under roads or been cut down by a farmer. The land is owned by our county council now. The original large hazel copse was there before field enclosure in the 18th Century!!!

We followed advice from the county woodland project officer and cleared a small section completely putting brash(cut materials) round the edge of the area and in fact being taught how to do fencing and making simple gates. We planted new hazel (bare rooted) before the beginning of the growing season - leaving a footpath width through. As we wanted IN THE LONG RUN to make hazel available to gardeners so we planted closely around the few ancient stools of hazel which were still growing before we started. For example to have bean poles (sets of 11 poles about 8ft tall) so YOU NEED TO HAVE STRAIGHT HAZEL POLES.

We began in 2003 autumn to clear a section and then AFTER 6 YEARS we coppiced the old again AND THE NEW - PLANTED 6 YEARS BEFORE - for the first time. The newly planted took well but initially, as it was a bare rooted plant, it does not grow straight because no stool has yet formed.

THE FIRST SECTION CLEARED AND THEN COPPICED (OLD AGAIN AND NEW FOR THE 1st TIME) IS DOING REALLY WELL with multiple straight stems forming. The subsequent sections are doing well too. In autumn 2013 we will start on the 5th section to coppice the old stools and the new planted in in 2006-7.

We are bothered by rabbits and by a very small deer - a muntjac(originally imported from China to England for a private menagerie). So we put fencing around a cleared area. This is not possible on a large scale and I think people pile up the 'brash' around the stools to prevent the new growth being eaten. Certainly the rabbits and deer love the bark on hazel.

ron 10 July, 2013

i live in cornwall an need hazel to build a roof canopy do you know the closet woodman to supply me ?

stephen stubbs 23 July, 2013

we have lots of hazel coppice in our woods, having cleared some back in feb to make pathway/camping area, we are using it for dead hedging and spoon carving, but want to learn how to make other items with it

Sue Wilson 13 October, 2013

A friend has asked me to help plant a Hazel grove in his garden. I am looking forward to doing a proper recce to see what is growing nearby. it would be great to connect up to a dormouse corridor if there is the potential to do so. In the meantime, can we plant new hazel now (can it be bare rooted or should we buy more established plants?) and how far apart should they be planted. I think the soil has a lot of clay and sand - it is on the edge of lowland heath. Any advice would be helpful.

Add your comment

This helps to discourage spam