Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Mollis)
Chinese Witch Hazel
The generic name is derived from the Greek words hama, meaning the same, and melos, meaning fruit, apple. The genus contains six species native to North America and eastern Asia. They are hardy, deciduous shrubs or, in their native land, small trees with short-petioled leaves tapering towards the base and four-partedwith narrow, wavy petals. The fruit is a capsule. An important characteristic of witch hazels is that they bloom in late autumn or from late winter until early spring while snow is still on the ground.
The Chinese witch hazel from central China flowers from January until March. Of the garden forms well known are ‘Brevipetala’ with narrow, short, orange petals and ‘Feuerzauber’ (‘Magic Fire’) with bright red petals. Other frequently cultivated species besides Chinese witch hazel include Hamamelis japonica, flowering from January to March, Hamamelis virginiana, flowering from September to October, and Hamamelis vernalis, flowering from September to October, plus many garden forms.
Propagation is by means of seeds which are stored for the winter at a temperature of about 10° C (50° F), stratified in spring and sown in the autumn. Garden forms are generally grafted on Hamamelis virginiana rootstock. Witch hazels require a moderately nourishing and aerated. They are hardy plants. They are most effective planted as solitary specimens in grass or in some conspicuous spot.
Shown in the illustration is the Chinese witch hazel (on the left in the image) and a variety of the Japanese witch hazel, Hamamelis japonica rubra.