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Sassafras and Hazelnut


Photo taken about 8:00 am, February 1, 2014. Sun and clouds and temperature just above freezing. Sassafras over a hazelnut at the southwest corner of the lower field at the edge of the woodlot.

There is a little grove of sassafras, here, and one multiple stem hazelnut shrub. They make gorgous silhouettes in their dormant state. The sassafras is elegant with delicate upturned twigs and buds and the hazelnut is decorated with dangling catkins. Last summer, during a wild food event and with Sarah Murray‘s expertise, we made delicious iced tea from sassafras root and twigs.

We have a stand of about six hazelnut shrubs near the east end of the driveway that are very overgrown. I cleared out some of the multiflora rose and honeysuckle last winter and waited to see how they might bear. In the fall, we harvested a few cups of very small and, somewhat, bitter nuts. The number of stems that are growing are uncountable, the honeysuckle and multiflora are getting out of hand, and the shrub has grown way beyond the reach of easy harvesting. Though, I will be planting a new orchard with hazelnuts, I think it is worth trying to renovate these hazel shrubs. I’m planning to coppice the entire shrub while harvesting the strongest and straightest poles which can be very useful. New stems will grow back and it will be some years before getting another harvest. I wonder if improved growing conditions will produce better and more nuts. We’ll see.


This is one of the overgrown shrubs. There are about six of them.


The pile of hazel poles is growing.

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