These delightful Asian natives are valued for sweet-scented, bell-shaped, soft yellow flowers that hang in short, chainlike clusters on bare branches in early spring. Foliage that follows is often tinged pink; it later turns bright green. Toothed, nearly round leaves somewhat resemble those of hazelnut (Corylus); fall color varies from yellow-green to a good clear yellow. Rather open structure with attractive, delicate branching pattern. Give same soil conditions as you would rhododendrons. Grow in wind-sheltered location in shrub border or at edge of woodland. Not favored by deer.
C. glabrescens. FRAGRANT WINTER HAZEL. Hardiest species. To 815 ft. high and wide. Can be trained as a small tree. Flower clusters are 11 in. long.
C. pauciflora. BUTTERCUP WINTER HAZEL. Dainty habit to 46 ft. high and wide. Blossom clusters are 1 in. long, each containing two or three blooms.
C. sinensis. A variable species. The typical form is a spreading shrub to 15 ft. tall and wide, bearing crowded flower spikes to 2 in. long. Variety C. s. sinensis (C. willmottiae) has velvety blue-green leaves, hairy leafstalks, and flower clusters to 3 in. long. Its selection 'Spring Purple' has purplish young stems that mature to green. C. s. calvescens (C. platypetala) has smooth leaf surfaces and almost hairless leafstalks.
C. spicata. SPIKE WINTER HAZEL. To 8 ft. high, 10 ft. wide. New growth is purple, maturing to bluish green. Each 1- to 2-in.-long flower cluster holds 6 to 12 blossoms. The showiest winter hazel in bloom. 'Golden Spring' has bright yellow new growth, with a touch of red and yellow, turning to chartreuse in midsummer and orange and yellow in fall.
C. 'Winterthur'. US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. To 12 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide, this hybrid can be grown as a large shrub or small tree if trained. Heat tolerant but looks best in warm regions when it has light shade. Gold fall color.