StatisticsHeight: up to 12m
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutHazel is a small, shrubby tree that can be found in a variety of habitats, such as woodlands, gardens and grasslands. It is famous for its long, yellow, male catkins (known as 'lamb's-tails') that appear in spring, and its green, ripening to brown, fruits (familiar to us as 'hazelnuts') that appear in late summer. These nuts are a favourite food of Grey Squirrels, Dormice and Wood Mice, and some small mammals will cache their finds, storing them in burrows or old birds' nests.
How to identifyHazel has shiny, brown bark and almost circular, toothed leaves with soft hairs on their undersides. It displays long, yellow catkins in spring, and provides a crop of hazelnuts in late summer.
In our area
Shropshire WIldlife Trust regularly coppice hazel trees across our Reserves. Hazel is most likely to be found on the edge of a woodland at sites such as Hope Valley or Harton Hollow. both support a large population of dormice.
Coppiced woodlands provide excellent open spaces for wildflowers, which in turn attracts butterflies and other pollinating insects. The caterpillars of some moths eat the leaves of hazel, and many birds and small mammals find nesting spots and shelter amongst hazel stems.
Hazelnuts are an important food source for a variety of creatures including wood mice and nuthatches, and of course, the hazel dormouse. The catkins are a source of pollen early in the year for insects such as bumblebees. Hazel can also support lichens, mosses and fungi – a true ecosystem supported by one tree!