Thursday, March 20, 2008


Our backyard has a wacky tree in it with gnarled branches that curl back on themselves. Neglected for many years, we had to cut and pry its limbs out of the chain link fence enclosing the dog runs. The tree is commonly known as a filbert, which is a member of the hazel family; they produce edible nuts, namely filberts and hazelnuts. This contorted variety is considered mostly ornamental and is known as Corkscrew Hazel or Harry Lauder's Walking Stick. Appropriate to my Scottish heritage, Harry Lauder was a Scottish entertainer. I haven't been able to find out why the variety is thusly named.

It is one of the many harbingers of spring and bloomed shortly after the temperatures began to warm. The blooms are long dangles of tiny yellow pollen-filed flowers that don't look like anything like flowers. These flowers are called catkins.

I just finished reading Gene Logsdon's book Organic Orcharding. In it, he says that occasionally these trees do produce edible nuts. I'll hope and wait and try to beat the squirrels to them!

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