(top: large/old hazelnut tree; bottom: hazelnut grown as a grove)
Minimum Spacing: 3-5’ min (better fertilization next to each other)
Light: prefers full sun
Shade: tolerates partial shade
Moisture: adaptable; water in drought
Pollination & Propagation: self fertile but does best with 2 or more trees nearby; sends up shoots or suckers at base which may need pruned as desired
Harvest begins at: 3-4 yrs
Interesting Growing Considerations: tolerates juglone! -- the toxic chemical in walnuts, so it makes excellent understory planting around walnuts; can be grown thickly (such as Hawthorn) as a living hedge or fence
Overview: Hazelnuts are smooth barked shrubs or small trees that grow from 10 to 20 feet tall. They have alternate, simple, toothed or double-toothed, rounded to nearly heart-shaped leaves, 2 to 6 inches long. American Hazelnut’s twigs and leafstalks are covered with rough hairs. They have husks open at one end and is very bristly. Hazelnuts often grow in dense stands, in thickets, and dry to moist woodlands.
Planting: Hazelnuts prefer soil that's well drained and fairly low in nutrients; overly rich soil gives plenty of leaf growth at the expense of flowers and nuts. The trees are technically self-fertile, but you will always get better results if you plant them in a group so that the pollen can drift from one hazelnut to the next, though other trees in the neighbourhood will also help with pollination. They don’t need much pruning when they’re shrub like but you can prune the tall branches in the center, to shape them.
Harvest & Uses: Hazelnuts drop from the tree as they ripen in late summer to early autumn. Rake the nuts into a pile for easy harvest, and gather them every few days. The first nuts may be empty. Nuts can be eaten raw or pressed for oil, or dried and eaten or pressed for oil. Dried nuts store for many years. Hazelnut is valued as a high yielding, high calorie, multi-use food.
Medicinally, Hazelnuts are brain-boosting and heart healthy. They are a great source of fiber and full of monosaturated fatty acids so they lower LDL, which causes high cholesterol, and increase the good kind of cholesterol. They contain good fats so are compatible with low sugar and low-fat diets, they are greatly beneficial for someone dealing with diabetes. They’re also full of antioxidants, that help remove and prevent damaging free-radical build up. Hazelnuts are also full of magnesium, vitamin E, thiamine, folate, and fatty acids which are all brain-boosting minerals and vitamins.