American Witch Hazel

(Hamamelis virginiana)

Other Names:


Hamamelidaceae – Witch Hazel family

Growth Type:
A perennial semi erect deciduous tree or shrub. It grows below the canopy of other larger trees. It therefore tends to have branches arrayed in an umbrella-like shape to gather as much sunlight as possible. The tree typically has dense clusters of stems emanating from its base. The bark is light brown, smooth, scaly; the inner bark is reddish purple.

Maximum height after 20 years is 15' - 20', but it is typically much shorter.

The asymmetrical leaves are oval, 1.5–6.5 in long and 1–5 in wide, oblique at the base, acute or rounded at the apex, with a wavy-toothed or shallowly lobed margin, and a short, stout petiole .25 - .5 in long; the midrib is more or less hairy, stout, with six to seven pairs of primary veins. The young leaves open involute, covered with stellate rusty down; when full grown, they are dark green above, and paler beneath. In fall, they turn yellow with rusty spots. The leaf stipules are lanceolate, acute; they fall soon after the leaf expands.

Multiple branched stems.

Not observed

Flower Season:
Mid through late Autumn

Flower Appearance:
The flowers are pale to bright yellow grow in clusters. They have four ribbon-shaped petals .3 - .75 in long and four short stamens. The flower calyx is deeply four-parted, very downy, orange brown within, imbricate in bud, persistent, cohering with the base of the ovary. Two or three bractlets appear at base.

The fruit is a hard woody capsule .3 - .5 in long.

Miscellaneous characteristics:

Dark rich forests

Parts Used:
Leaves and twigs

Wild Food Uses:
None Known

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
Witch Hazel is astringent and anti-inflammatory in nature. Decoctions of the leaves and twigs have been used by Native Americans to treat swelling, inflammation, and tumors. Tinctured Witch Hazel is an effective treatment for hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. It is also said to have a calming sedative effect, and the ability to stop bleeding, and to raise blood pressure by constricting blood vessels. I have made highly effective acne treating ointments from Witch Hazel.

Medicinal Actions:
Anti-Inflammatory, Astringent, Haemostatic, Sedative, Styptic, Vasoconstrictor

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