Monday, November 11, 2013

November Blooms: American Witch-hazel

By Erika Zambello

It may be colder in North Carolina, but that does not mean flowers aren't blooming! I arrived at the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants one chilly morning to see the newest of fall's flowers, the yellow blossoms of American witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana.

Why is witch-hazel blooming in November? "The plants will fill niches," says Stefan Bloodworth, curator of the Blomquist Garden. "Witch-hazels have adapted to put blooms out when it's cold." The plant will produce flowers for around two weeks, each flower itself lasting for two or three days.

The flowers are delicate, perched daintily on the bare branches of the shrub-like witch-hazel plant. Each petal is long and thin, like tiny fingers reaching out toward the sun. Their pale yellow color is a perfect match for the golds and oranges of the amazing autumn foliage throughout the Blomquist Garden.

Blogger Erika Zambello is a graduate student studying Ecosystem Science and Conservation at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. 

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