The yellow, strap-like flowers of this native shrub are among the last blooms to appear in fall, but are often hidden by the leaves. Common witch-hazel is a large shrub with a picturesque irregular branching habit that naturally grows along woodland edges. The large, rounded, dark green leaves often hang onto the winter branches. The fruit capsules mature a year after flowering, splitting open to expel seeds that are attractive to robins, juncos, titmice, cardinals and other birds. Tolerant of road salt and clay soil, this is a great specimen plant, or can be used for screening, in masses, or as part of a naturalized landscape.
- Chicago area
- North America
- Mixed border
- Small tree (15-25 feet)
- Compact tree (10-15 feet)
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Early fall
- Mid fall
- Late fall
Size and Form
15 to 25 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide; irregular form at maturity.
Tree & Plant Care
Performs best in moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter, but can tolerate clay soil. Mulch to keep soil moist. Avoid dry conditions. One of the most salt-tolerant shrubs. In part shade it will have a more open habit than in full sun.
Disease, pests and problems
No serious problems.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the eastern United States.
Commonly found in wooded areas.
Attracts birds & butterflies
Seeds are eaten by a number of species of birds.
Serves as a host plant for the larvae of the spring azure butterfly.
Bark color and texture
Tan-colored lenticels are prominent in older grayish stems.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate leaves are oval and irregular with wavy or toothed margins; 6 inches long.
Leaves are green in summer, changing to a clear yelow in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
1 inch, yellow, strap-like petals flower in late October when leaves are still present.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruit is a capsule which ripens in the fall.