Nature

Witch Hazel: Botanical Profile of a Plant

What make the plant special reveals itself at the end of autumn. After the leaves turn yellow, then red, and finally fall off the plant, only the barren, dry branches remain. But then, bright yellow flowers with thin, ribbon-like petals sprout from the branches. They bloom throughout winter into February

Plant

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) occurs in the wilderness as undergrowth in moist, deciduous forests or along stream banks in eastern North America. There it was traditionally used by indigenous peoples for medicinal purposes. In the 18th century, witch hazel made its way to Europe as an ornamental plant, and was soon used as a medicinal plant there as well.

Flowers

The yellow witch hazel flowers bring colour to the autumn and winter landscape, even remaining intact beneath the snow. Reaching well beyond the plant itself, their intense fragrance is especially noticeable in the clear, crisp winter air. With their spidery, curled form, the blossoms look like little outstretched claws, which makes them seem a bit eerie. This might be one of the reasons why the plant is called “witch hazel”.

Leaves and Bark

Witch Hazel contains essential oils, flavonoids and a large amount of tannin in its leaves and bark. The leaves and branches of the witch hazel are steam distilled for use in cosmetics. Witch hazel distillate has calming and astringent properties and is moisture preserving.