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Plant of the Week; Witch Hazel16 December 2010
The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) is a popular shrub with showy, spidery flowers that appear on the leafless branches for many weeks in the winter, and sweet fragrance is a bonus. You can cut a branch or two for indoor decoration. The base of the twisted, strap-like petals is usually tinged with red and the blooms are unaffected by frost. After the flowers have opened the large, hazel-like leaves appear and in the autumn these turn a brilliant yellow to orange.
Popular varieties include H. mollis, the Chinese Witch Hazel with fragrant golden flowers, H. pallida with sulphur-yellow flowers and a number of bronzy red or copper coloured varieties.