Scientific Name: Corylus avellana
Folk Names: Cob nut, coll
Ethical Concerns: 70% of the worlds' supply of hazelnuts come from Turkey, where illegal child labour is commonly used to harvest them*
Associated Celebrations: AutEx
Deities: Artemis, Boann, Chandra, Diana, Manannan, Mercury, Ogma, Thor
Parts Used: Nuts, wood
Magical Properties: Wisdom, protection, creativity, fertility, luck
Substitutions: Other nuts.
Evidence of the processing of hazelnuts have been found in Scotland dated to roughly 6,000 BCE
In Celtic mythology, hazelnuts were believed to give wisdom and inspiration. There is a myth in which 9 hazel trees grew around a sacred pool, whose nuts dropped into the water to feed the salmon, who absorbed their wisdom. A Druid teacher, hoping to become omniscient, caught one of the salmon and instructed a student to cook it for him. While cooking it, a drop of fat burned his thumb, and upon instinctively sucking on it, he gained the wisdom of the salmon. The student (Fionn MacCumhail/Finn McCool) went on to become a heroic leader.
In some European folklore and traditions, hazel was associated with deities of the sky, and believed to provide protection against storms, lightning, and fire. Mercury’s winged wand was said to be made of hazel.
“The Hazel Branch” from Grimms' Fairy Tales claims that hazel branches offer great protection from snakes.
- Hazel wood is popular for wand-making.
- Hazelnuts can be strung up inside the house to bring luck.
- Forked hazel wands can be used for dowsing, particularly to find lost/hidden objects.
- Draw a circle in the dirt with a hazel branch for protection, around yourself or your plants.
- Wearing a crown of hazel is thought to have the power to provide invisibility and grant wishes.
- Associated with fertility, hazelnuts were often gifted to brides, or can be carried on one’s self for the same purpose.
- Place hazel twigs in window frames to protect against lightning. Three pins of hazel wood driven into your house are thought to protect against fire.
- Eat hazelnuts to gain wisdom, especially for the skill in correctly understanding and utilising information - this can be particularly helpful in the context of divination.
Part Used: Nut kernel
Extraction Method: Steam distillation
Flash Point: >350°C
Perfume Use: Base oil
Shelf Life: 12 months
Scent Description: Faintly nutty
Active Constituents: Rich in Vitamin E
Skin Types: All
Absorption Rate: Medium
Properties: Emollient, moisturising, regenerative, mildly astringent
Warnings: May cause a reaction in those with nut allergies.
Hazel trees are often grown as ornamental plants, particularly species/varieties with contorted stems, weeping branches, or purple leaves.
- Hazel is a traditional component in English hedgerows;
- Used for making wattle, woven fences, and the frames of coracle boats;
The nuts are edible, eaten raw of roasted.
They are also frequently used in confectionery: to make praline, or in chocolate products. It is also used in a number of cakes and desserts throughout Europe. Italian company Ferrero, who are famous for making the choc-hazelnut spread Nutella (as well as Ferrero Rocher chocolates), use 25% of the world’s hazelnut supply.
Hazelnuts also flavour the liqueur Frangelico.
Powdered nuts are used as an ingredient in skin care products such as face masks.
‘Hazel’ refers to all (14-18) species, all of which produce edible nuts.
Plant size: 3-8m (can reach 15m)
Leaves: Rounded leaves 6-12cm long with serrated edges, lightly hairy on both sides
Flowers: Early spring (before leaves): Male flower clusters are 5-12cm long and pale yellow, female are largely concealed in the buds, but bright red
Fruit: Produces nuts 1-2.5cm long/wide
Etymology: The genus name Corylus comes from the Greek korys (‘hood’), in reference to the shape of the husk that covers the nut. The name hazel also refers to this, coming from the Anglo-Saxon haesel, for ‘bonnet’
In the Garden
Type: Deciduous tree (can be grown as a hedge)
Light: Full sun/partial shade
Companion Planting: Crimson clover (and other legumes): contributes to soil fertility and attracts pollinators.
- Mulch well with well-rotted organic matter in spring.
- Produces lots of pollen in late winter/early spring, which can trigger allergies.
- Nuts fall out of their husks when ripe, 7-8 months after pollination.
Whewell, Tim (2019, 18 September); Is Nutella made with nuts picked by children?; BBC News