Witch-hazel Hamamelis virginiana
Family: Hamamelidaceae (Witch-hazel)
Branching: Alternate

This is a common shrub in upland deciduous forests.  It usually has a single or few stems and sometimes grows to the size of a small tree.  In the summer and winter it is fairly distinctive.  Its leaves in the summer resemble those of Speckled Alder but habitat (upland as opposed to lowland) and buds are the difference.  Witch-hazel buds are one of the few that don't have scales.  Instead they are "naked" and look more like an unfolded leaf than a bud.   They are somewhat yellow and slightly resemble Bitternut Hickory and Poison Ivy.

Naked end bud.  This particular twig is very fresh and vigorous and looks hairier and greener than they usually do.

A more typical look of the end bud

These are its flowers, which appear in the fall and in groups of three.

Young bark

The top part of the plant often fans out, spreading its twigs out like an umbrella.

The fruit, which are usually in groups of threes as well.

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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