Hazel can grow to 12 m tall and can live for hundreds of years. It is often coppiced, to harvest timber, and we have examples of this at Bank Woods.
It is an important element of the ‘understorey’ of woods of oak and birch. The leaves are covered in soft hairs. The male ‘catkins’ appear from mid-February; the hazel nuts develop in autumn.
Hazel leaves provide food for many kinds of moths, and its branches provide shelter for many ground nesting birds. Hazel flowers provide early pollen for bees, and the fruits are food for many birds and small mammals.
Hazel is known in Celtic folklore as the tree of creative wisdom. It is said to be a ‘magical’ tree – its branches are used to make water–divining rods. Hazel wood is said to be the best wood for making Morris dancing sticks, being straight and sturdy and making a satisfying sound when struck!