Content Detail

American hazelnut is a thicket-forming native shrub, excellent for naturalizing, woodland gardens and shade areas. Showy male flowers (catkins) add early spring interest and dark green leaves turn a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors in the fall. The nuts mature from September to October, attracting seed-eating birds, such as blue jays and woodpeckers.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Birch
  • Family (botanic) Betulaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early spring, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Round, Thicket-forming
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and Form:  

A thicket forming, multi-stemmed shrub with a rounded habit, it grows 6 to 10 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 5. American hazelnut is found as an understory plant and along wood edges in eastern North America and Canada.

Attracts birds & butterflies:

Seed eaters, such as blue jays and woodpeckers, are attracted to this plant.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, alternate leaves are ovate to heart-shaped with a toothed margin. Green in summer, they have some mild yellow fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Showy, yellow male flowers are borne in pendulous catkins; tiny pink females show at the end of branches.  

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Edible hazelnuts (filberts), which mature from September to October are enclosed in a frilly husk.

Plant care:

American hazelnut is a long-lived plant adaptable to a wide variety of habitats. Although it is best in full sun, it is tolerant of part shade. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soil pH in well-drained, loamy soil. Prune unwanted suckers to maintain size and shape.

Disease, pests and problems:

American hazelnut is susceptible to Japanese beetles, scale insects, and filbert blight.


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