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American filbert makes for an interesting hedge, a great border plant, or a green screen in areas where it can spread. It’s the perfect addition to natural areas to add visual interest and provide habitat and nourishment for wildlife. Corylus americana is the earliest native plant to bloom in southeastern Wisconsin. You will find male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flower is a large (2-3” long) pendulous showy catkin, yellowish brown in color. The fall color is variable, typically orange, reds, purples.American Filbert, also known as American Hazelnut, is a suckering shrub native to the edges and understory of Wisconsin woodlands. It will grow in a wide variety of conditions, attracts many species of wildlife, and has four-season interest. American hazelnut is an excellent choice for woodland gardens and naturalized areas.
American filbert prefers full sun to part shade. It will grow in full shade; however, the form will be more open and growth rate more moderate. Nut production is also reduced in shade. According to the Morton Arboretum, American filbert can also be grown in dry shady areas with a layer of organic mulch, as long as it is monitored for water during periods of drought. It is tolerant of variable soil pH if grown in well-drained soil, tolerant of drought, and will grow in dry, moist, clay, or sandy soil conditions.American Filbert is a host plant to caterpillars of the Saturniidae family, some of the most spectacular moths in North America. These include the beautiful green Luna moth (Actias luna) and the large, strikingly patterned cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia). In our area, typically the caterpillars are not prolific enough to cause significant damage. These unique Lepidoptera begin their lifecycle as tiny larva in the first instar stage and can grow to be quite large in their final stages (a hardy 2-3” in length). The adult moths have a very short lifespan (7-10 days) so are rarely seen.
The American Filbert is a multi-stemmed shrub with a rounded top and an open, often wide-spreading base. Because of its size, it is adapts well to naturalizing and other nonformal areas. It bears annual, abundant crops of small, sweet tasting nuts. It will bear in 2-3 years after planting. The nuts are easy to crack and drop free of the husk when mature. (Plant multiple trees with the same flowering time to ensure pollination) (zone 4-9)There are two identifying factors that set the American apart. American hazelnuts have more mature involucres — bracts around the base of flower — which extend up to three centimeters in length, and the twigs on American hazelnut bushes are also more glandular. Also, American hazelnuts have small thick-shelled nuts, are more resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) — a hazelnut fungi overtaking the crop — and are adaptable to a wider range of climates. Did you also know that American hazelnuts are one of the varieties used to cultivate the hybrid Arbor Day Farm hazelnut? (Source: arbordayblog.org)