Here is a secret, unknown to most. A tiny flower, almost unseen. I’ve never noticed it. As usual in nature, the male is the show-off. Appearing in spring, waving in the breeze, cascading from all the branches like a fountain. The male catkins are conspicuous, like liquid drops as they shimmer to life in the wind, as seen in the Garrya video below. But this isn’t about the boys, it’s about the girls. The female half of this monoecious plant. Twinkling, bright and tiny. Somehow, at this time, this year, this day I saw something new on Corylus avellana. I slowed down and that startling magenta flower became a star. It’s appearance took the male catkins out of the limelight and put them back in the chorus. The color is fantastic and the shape reminds me of a sweet, spidery witchhazel flower. If you want a peek, better be quick because they don’t last long, maybe one week, or possibly two. Enough time to do their job and start creating a seed. Now that I’ve discovered this small and secret flower, the contorted filbert has just become even more interesting. Winter was my favorite time for this plant, when I could see the twining, twisted, tangled stems, but now spring has brought a new surprise, a tiny pink star.
Just the Facts
Corylus avellana ‘contorta’ Contorted Filbert or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick
Height 8-10 ft (2.5-3m) Width 8-10 ft.
Full sun to part shade
Winter interest, those attractive twisty branches