Hazel flowers: male and female

The male flowers (catkins) on the hazel trees have been growing since last autumn. But where are the girls: without female flowers there will be no nuts…

Hazel catkins (male flowers) in December
Hazel catkins (male flowers) in December

Now, in mid to late January, the male flowers are full size and opening out to release their pollen. Consequently, the much smaller, female flowers are appearing. You have to look closely to spot them: they’re just a wisp of red or cream peeking out from the tip of a bud. What you see is just a part of the flower, the styles, that will receive the pollen. The rest of the flower is inside the bud. The more female flowers there are, the more chance there is of a good crop of nuts at the end of the summer.

Female hazel flower in January
Female hazel flower in January

In hazel, the male and female flowers grow on the same tree: so-called monoecious, from the Greek for one house. So, if you spot the long hazel catkins, watch out for the tiny little female flowers too.


14 thoughts on “Hazel flowers: male and female”

  1. i have hazelnut orchard in bhutan. I saw many catkins from autumn and now there seen many female flower. But all catkins are elongated but no open and all dries up. What that significant and will be nut in future?

    1. Hi Jigme – I wish I could answer this, but I don’t know. Unless there is some reason that the male catkins have failed completely, I would be surprised if none of them have produced pollen. In windy weather the pollen can disperse very quickly (and the female flowers are very good at capturing enough of it), leaving just the elongated empty catkins which quickly dry up… However, if the trees truly have failed to produce pollen, it would indeed mean no nuts this autumn. Maybe someone else reading this will be able to provide more help. Fingers crossed that your trees will fruit well for you:)

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