Tree of the month: Hazel

Today the moon is new so, according to this version of the Ogham calendar, we’ve just entered the Month of the Hazel or the Month of the Crabapple. I say ‘this version’ because people don’t always agree about the Ogham calendar. Here’s another description of the Ogham. But never mind the controversies. Let’s admire the hazel tree.

The hazel (Corylus avellana) can be found growing in woodlands in lowland parts of the British Isles and in other parts of Europe too, also in parts of Africa and Asia. It’s not very tall, often found in the understorey. That means that taller trees grow alongside it and, when they’re in leaf, the hazel thrives in their dappled shade.

Hazel trees are important in their ecosystems and their wood has been used by people in many ways for many centuries. That’s why we have a fine tradition of coppicing.

In modern times the demand for hazel wood is less than it used to be but people still maintain coppices of hazel and other species. Some of the coppicing is done by volunteers and it was with The Conservation Volunteers (formerly known as BTCV, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) that I first learned how to coppice hazel with a billhook. If you’re in Britain and you’d like some healthy outdoor fun that’s useful, try this. The coppicing season will start soon and you could do a lot worse than to get out there with The Conservation Volunteers.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the hazelnut. This is one of the best sources of plant protein, suitable for humans, that grow well in Britain. For some people hazelnut allergy is a real problem but if you’re not allergic, you can enjoy many good hazelnut dishes.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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15 Responses to Tree of the month: Hazel

  1. petrel41 says:

    Part of the botanical garden in Haren in the Netherlands is according to the Ogham calendar.

  2. alicephilippa says:

    TCV (website:http://www.tcv.org.uk/) working groups are generally during the week, which is great if you can devote a day to it. There may also be ‘Friends of’ groups associated with nature reserves who have weekend working parties. These are organised in much the same way as a TCV one is, but work will generally be confined to the Nature Reserve with which they are associated. Some are free to join; other do charge a membership fee.

    • argylesock says:

      Something’s changed since I was last out coppicing, then. BTCV work days that I went on were usually on Sundays and occasionally I went on residentials too. I feel another blog post gestating! ‘How to volunteer on the land’ or some such title.

      Please do put any relevant links here if you wish. The link you’ve just given is in fact the same one that I gave in my post here. Your knowledge of the conservation volunteering world is far more up to date than mine is.

  3. I am confused; but that is normal for me. The hazelnuts we buy here are rather large (1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter) compared to the hazel nuts we find on our hazel bushes (which I believe our “witchhazel” liquid balm comes from. Yet when I used your link to look at “hazel trees” I saw what looked liked our hazel bushes that can be found in the country-side. So our hazel looks much like your hazel. My confusion comes from the large size of the nuts we eat. What do they grow on? Thanks for your expertise. “Wally the Confused”

  4. petrel41 says:

    You are welcome, like always 🙂

    The Ogham part of the botanical garden is mainly in a circle, the year round, with plants fitting for the various parts of the year circle.

  5. Pingback: Tree of the month: Ivy | Science on the Land

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