All About Hamamelidaceae: The Witch Hazel Family

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, February 3 - 16, 2020
Joanna Long
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, February 3 – 16, 2020

1)   Corylopsis glabrescens                          Fragrant Winter Hazel

  • Corylopsis are Asian natives which bloom in late winter or early spring with profusions of sunny yellow flowers dangling from bare branches.
  • Corylopsis glabrescens is the hardiest of the genus and can grow up to 15 feet high and wide.
  • Flower buds are about to burst open on this shrub in the Witt Winter Garden.

2)   Hamamelis mollis  ‘Gold Crest’                          Chinese Witch Hazel

  • These small spreading trees put on a lovely show of spidery yellow flowers in the winter.
  • The cultivar ‘Gold Crest’ has larger flowers and blooms later than most other cultivars.
  • Many cultivars are grafted onto rootstock from H. virginiana, the East Coast native and any root suckers should be promptly removed.
  • You can find H. Mollis ‘Gold Crest’ in the Witt Winter Garden.

3)   Parrotia persica                          Persian Ironwood

  • Parrotia persica are endemic to the Alborz Mountains of northern Iran and southern Azerbaijan.
  • The trees, which can reach 40 feet in height, are highly ornamental with scaly bark, apetalous red flowers in late winter, and a rainbow of fall color.
  • There are two specimens blooming along Arboretum Drive in the middle of the bus turnaround.

4)   Sycopsis sinensis                          Chinese Fighazel

  • These evergreen trees are native to central China and are still somewhat uncommon in horticulture.
  • The apetalous flowers are very similar to Parrotia, but are yellow.
  • Our Sycopsis grove dates back to the 1940s. You can find it along Arboretum Drive just south of the bus turnaround.

5)   x Sycoparrotia semidecidua                          Sycoparrotia

  • This unusual tree is a cross between the genera, Sycopsis and Parrotia.  Although species hybrids are common, genus hybrids are not, and are indicated by an x before the genus in the name.
  • The hybrid parentage is obvious in both the foliage and the flowers.
  • You can view x Sycoparrotia semidecidua on the west side of the Sycopsis grove along Arboretum Drive.