Northern Ontario Plant Database
Corylus cornuta Marshall
En: beaked hazelnut
Betulaceae (Birch Family)
General: An open, deciduous shrub, 3-4 m tall.
Stems/twigs: Bark is grayish-brown and smooth. Twigs are reddish-brown and smooth (glabrous); buds are alternate, ovate, reddish-brown, and pointed to blunt-tipped; the 4 or more bud scales are overlapping (imbricate) and finely hairy.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, and pinnately-veined; petioles are 8—18 mm long. Leaf blades are broadly elliptic, ovate, or obovate, 5—12 cm long by 2.5—10 cm wide, thin-textured (membranaceous), especially under shade, green and usually glabrous above, paler and softly pubescent beneath. Leaf bases are rounded to cordate, the apex is sharply pointed (acuminate), and leaf margins have shallow triangular lobes towards the apex and are sharply double-toothed (biserrate).
Flowers: Unisexual, arranged in catkins (aments), with male and female catkins borne on the same plant (monoecious) and emerging before or with the leaves. Male catkins are borne in groups of 1—3 on short stalks adjacent to lateral buds; overwintering male catkins are small (< 2.5 cm long) and pale grayish-brown, but elongate to 6 cm and become pendant when shedding pollen. Female flowers, included within overwintering buds, are only visible when their deep red stigmas emerge from between bud scales.
Fruit: A cluster of 2—6, ovoid, hard, but thin-shelled, edible nuts, each about 12 mm long and surrounded by a tubular, bristly-hairy involucral bract, at least twice as long as and narrowed above the nut.
Habitat and Range: Dry to moist mixedwood forests, forest borders and clearings, and rich thickets. The local subspecies of beaked hazelnut, Alnus cornuta Marshall subsp. cornuta, is native to north-temperate North America. Its range extends across Canada from Newfoundland to western British Columbia. In Ontario, it occurs N to about 50°N (Soper & Heimburger 1982). Another subspecies, Corylus cornuta subsp. californica (A.DC.) A.E.Murray (California hazelnut), is native to western North America and extends into southern British Columbia.
Similar Species: American hazelnut (Corylus americana Walter) can be recognized by its glandular pubescent young stems and petioles, and the beakless, open involucre that surrounds each nut. In Ontario, American hazelnut occurs in southern and southeastern Ontario, and in the Lake-of-the-Woods area in western Ontario.Back to species list