Winter Highlight: Witch Hazel


You may be familiar with witch hazel as an astringent, bug repellent or disinfectant for wounds. However, witch hazel is actually a shrub. There’s a North American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), a Japanese witchhazel (Hamamelis japonica) and a Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis).

At Arlington National Cemetery, you can find a lovely hybrid of the Japanese and Chinese witch hazel, called "Jelena." On a clear day, its magnificent coppery, spidery petals can be seen from a distance. Up close, you’ll see that the flowers are really a mixture of red, orange and yellow, and they are fragrant.

All witch hazels are easy to grow. The native witch hazel is happier with some afternoon shade, while the Asian witch hazel’s fall colors will be more brilliant if given full sun.