Hazelnut/Filbert, Corylus cornuta
Betulaceae – Birch and alder family
“Corylus” is derived from “korys,” Greek for helmet; “cornuta” means “horned.” Together the generic and specific names aptly describe the helmet-like calyx surrounding the edible nut.
This tall deciduous shrub or small tree has long main stems, and velvety ovoid leaves with pointed tips and double-toothed margins. The European filbert of Willamette Valley orchards is a close, and nearly identical, relative to our native hazelnut. Hazelnuts and filberts are festooned with yellow male catkins in February, heralding the allergy season for many pollen sufferers. The inconspicuous female flowers look like small green buds with several bright red pistils.
The hazelnut has co-evolved with the squirrels, jays, and other creatures that energetically compete for the rich nuts. Hazelnut seedlings are dispersed through forest, fields, and backyards, by jays that lose their grip on the smooth shell, and Douglas squirrels that forget where they have buried their booty. Native inhabitants of the Northwest ate the nuts fresh or stored them for winter use. The long twigs were used as ties or twisted into rope by some tribes (5-40).
Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR