Witch Hazel TreeFor the longest time I thought witch hazel trees were aspen trees. The leaves seemed an exact match. It was only with the help of a friend one fall that I realized these were completely different plants.
The Witch Hazel tree has a fat oval leaf with gentle toothing along each side. So it is quite similar to an Aspen tree. However, where an aspen tree has white bark, like a white birch, the witch hazel tree has a grey bark. Aspen trees tend to grow straight and very tall, again like a birch. Witch hazel trees tend to be fairly short, perhaps five feet tall. Finally, a clear way to identify a witch hazel tree is to wait until October and November. Witch hazel is one of the only trees to flower in the late fall. it creates a wealth of beautiful, thin yellow flowers all along its branches.
The witch hazel tree is NOT named after witches, even though it is flowering in the Halloween season. Instead, the name comes from the Old English word "wice" which means "bendable". It's funny how we change words over time and then think we have entirely new meanings for them!
Most Witch Hazel trees I see are rather small.
The bark of theWitch Hazel tree is smooth, dark, relatively narrow, with little knobs on it occasionally.
This next set of photos was all taken on October 23, 2012. They show what an Witch Hazel tree looks like in autumn. The Witch Hazel leaves turn a golden color which almost shines in the sunlight. The leaves do get splotchy, though, with brown and green spots on them.
Witch Hazels in the fall have a beautiful yellow flower on the tree. The yellow flower has quite thin yellow petals on it.
Here are some additional photos of witch hazel, from another set of trees. These are from October.
Trees of Sutton Massachusetts
Massachusetts Foliage Photo Collection
Sutton Massachusetts Photo Album