Hamamelis, also known as Witch Hazel, is a genus of only a few species in the family Hamamelidaceae, native to Eastern Asia and North America.
The genus contains deciduous shrubs and small trees, growing up to 8 m (26 ft) tall. This plant produces simple oval leaves and spider-like flowers arranged in clusters. Flowers have spicy fragrance and are borne on bare stems from autumn to early spring. Hamamelis is extremely frost resistant, subtle in color and very delicate in form, adding interest to the winter garden.
The scientific name is made up of Greek words “hama”, which means “at same time” or “together” and “mêlon”, meaning “apple” or “fruit”, since the plant can bear flowers and fruits at the same time.
Its common name “Witch Hazel” is partly due to the resemblance of its leaves to the common hazel and partly from the Middle English “wiche” (from the Old English “wice”), meaning “pliant” or “bendable” and relates to its twigs and young branches.
Hamamelis means protection and inspiration, but it can also symbolize magic and mysticism.
Interesting facts about Hamamelis:
Freezing tolerance and avoidance
Witch Hazel flowers have strap-like petals that are able to curl inward to protect blooms from the cold. It is considered as a protective mechanism against freezing.
When the temperature warms again, the petals unfurl to show their full beauty.
Benefits and Uses
The plant is best known for its medicinal properties.
It is recognized worldwide as a natural cleanser and toner, but Witch Hazel has many more uses than that.
It may be used for treating headaches, sprains, sores, hemorrhoids, tumors and eye problems. The plant is also used as a pain reliever and to treat various skin conditions and infections. It is known to clear up acne, boils, psoriasis and minor cuts. Due to its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, it is able to stimulate the immune system and actively eliminate foreign agents in the body.
Witch Hazel was used by Native Americans in the treatment of external inflammations and in various sacred rituals.
Hamamelis is used in cosmetics to make aftershaves, mouthwashes and skin care products. It is also sometimes used as a makeup remover, due to its astringent qualities.
Hamamelis flowers range in color from deep red to yellow.
Spring, Autumn, Winter
The plant grows between 150 cm (5 ft) and 8 m (26 ft) in height, depending on the species.
Hamamelis likes fertile, moist and well drained soil, with a ph between 4.5. and 7.0. It tolerates deep soils over chalk.