Beaked Hazelnut - Corylus cornuta

Family: Betulaceae - Birch Family


Corylus cornuta is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft 10in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.[PFAF]

"Hazelnuts have a localized distribution on Vancouver Island. The nuts were a favourite food of the Island Salish where they were available. Paul (1968) remembers gathering them at Goldstream when he was young. " [Turner&bell]


Var. californica

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]
General: Deciduous shrub, 1-3 m tall with many stems, densely clumped or spreading by suckers; twigs sparsely to moderately hairy, sometimes glandular. [IFBC-E-flora]
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, elliptic to oval, leaf blades heart-shaped with a sharp-pointed tip, doubly saw-toothed, paler below than above, 4-10 cm long, turning yellow in the fall. [IFBC-E-flora]
Flowers: Male flowers in catkins appearing before the leaves in spring; female flowers in a very small catkin with protruding red stigmas. [IFBC-E-flora]
Fruits: Edible hard-shelled nuts completely enclosed by bristly bractlets, in 2's or 3's at the end of branches, barely 1.5 cm long, thinly hairy or glabrous. [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
Mesic sites in the lowland and montane zones; var. cornuta - common south of 57degreeN east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, var. californica - frequent on S Vancouver Island and the lower Fraser Valley, becoming rare to the east; E to NF and S to GA (var. cornuta) and E to ID and S to CA (var. californica). [IFBC-E-flora]

Ranging from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, south especially in the mountains to Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas, and Oregon; and a variety of it is found in the mountains of California. [EWP]

Two varieties occur in BC:
1. Involucral beaks about twice as long as the fruit; silicles thinly short-hairy; twigs sparsely hairy............... var. cornuta
1. Involucral beaks about equal in length to the fruit; silicles glabrous; twigs hairy, sometimes glandular............... var. californica (A. DC.) Sharp [IFBC-E-flora]

USDA Flower Colour: Yellow
USDA Blooming Period: Early Spring
USDA Fruit/Seed characteristics:

Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall


Ecological Indicator Information A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane. transcontinental North American deciduous shrub. Occurs in cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates on moderately dry to fresh. calcium-rich and nitrogen-rich soils (Moder and Mull humus forms). Sporadic in disturbed forests on water-shedding sites; its occurrence decreases with increasing latitude and precipitation. and increases with increasing continentality. Characteristic of young-seral broad-leaved forests.[IPBC][E-flora]

Edible Uses


Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

Branches & Leaves: An infusion has been used in the treatment of heart complaints and intestinal disorders[257]. [PFAF]

Bark: A decoction has been given to children to alleviate teething pain[257]. [PFAF]


"An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils, but is in general more productive of seeds when grown on soils of moderate fertility[11, 200]. It does less well in rich heavy soils or poor ones[11, 63]. Does well in a loamy soil[11]. Very suitable for an alkaline soil[11], but it dislikes very acid soils[17]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.8 to 7.5. Plants are fairly wind tolerant[1, 11]. Plants are hardy to about -30oc[160]. They thrive in a short growing season[160]. This species is occasionally cultivated for its edible seed in N. America[61] but is of no value in Britain as a seed bearer[11]. Plants can bear fruit in 5 - 6 years from seed[160]. Members of this genus bear transplanting well and can be easily moved even when relatively large[11]. Special Features: Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms." [PFAF]

"Seed - best sown as soon as it is harvested in autumn in a cold frame[164]. Germinates in late winter or spring. Stored seed should be pre-soaked in warm water for 48 hours and then given 2 weeks warm followed by 3 - 4 months cold stratification[164]. Germinates in 1 - 6 months at 20°c[164]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or sheltered place outdoors for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer[K]. Layering in autumn. Easy, it takes about 6 months[78, 200]. Division of suckers in early spring. Very easy, they can be planted out straight into their permanent positions."[PFAF]


  1. [Bocek]Ethnobotany of Costanoan Indians, California,Based on Collections by John P. Harrington, BARBARAR. BOCEK, Economic Botany, 38(2), 1984
  2. [PFAF], Accessed March 27, 2015
Page last modified on Thursday, February 7, 2019 8:50 PM