Common hazel (Eng), avellano (Spa), avellaner (Cat), urritza (Baq), avelaneiro (Glg), aveleira (Por).
“The trees and flowers, the ears of corn and the hazel spoke to me; I sang their songs with them, and they understood me, just like at home.”
‘Flute dream’, Hermann Hesse
The common hazel is a shrub that branches from the base or small tree that can be up to 8-10 m tall. Its crown is wide and dense, and its bark is reddish when it is young and greyish when mature. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, very wide, heart-shaped, rounded or broadly oval, up to 15 cm long, serrated on the margin and with a pointed tip. The flowers are unisexual, i.e., there are separate male and female blossoms, which develop in winter on the same plant. The male flowers are arranged in long hanging strands known as catkins, and the gentlest puff of wind can disperse the pollen. The female blooms, once fertilised, form the fruits, or hazelnuts, which have a partial, papery covering that looks like a helmet.
This is a pioneering species that grows along watercourses, in gorges and valleys. It develops in isolation, forming stands, copses or together with other species, as long as there is enough moisture. It can occur on any soil type, with the exception of very sandy and poor substrates. It grows from sea level up to 1900 m.
It is native to Europe and eastern Asia. On the Iberian Peninsula it grows spontaneously, especially in the northern half, and takes refuge in cool, shady places in the south. It is mainly grown in Catalonia and Levante, although it is often grafted onto more resistant varieties.