There is something extraordinary about a plant that begins spring with a show of flowers rather than leaves. It’s rather daring, actually. Plants need to produce leaves for photosynthesis, to make food and to stay alive. But instead these early bloomers start off the year with reproduction, making seeds, continuing the species. Planning for the future. Pollination from wind is easier with no leaves in the way. Also, the plants have extra time to produce nuts or fruit before the season ends. So many survival strategies in the plant world.
Corylopsis, or winterhazel, is one of these early bloomers. Flowering in March in the Pacific Northwest, it’s covered with delicate, pale yellow blossoms. Winterhazel prefers organic, acid, well-drained soils and grows best in partial shade. I think the plant pictured here is Corylopsis pauciflora or Buttercup Winterhazel, which grows 4-6 feet high and is originally from Japan and Taiwan. Even the flowers are pretty, the foliage is my favorite part. Belonging to the Witchhazel family, Hamamelidaceae, it has those beautiful wide leaves, ovate, that turn golden orange in the fall. A lovely leaf, a lovely plant.