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.

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