Hamamelis species


Can anyone share with me witch lore about this plant?


Early March, full flower, no leaves, yet.


3 thoughts on “WhichWitch?

  1. I had to check: in the back of my mind I had an idea it had nothing to do with witches but with the word ‘wych’. Apparently early Wych is “used in names of trees with pliant branches, from Old English wic(e), apparently from a Germanic root meaning ‘bend’; related to weak.”

    But I was told it also had mild medical properties, and seem to remember bottles of it in liquid form, perhaps used as an antiseptic or similar; again, I’d have to check.

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    • Might you have been recalling “witches’ broom” as described by staff from the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts?
      The term “witches’ brooms” may bring up images of Halloween transportation devices, but it also describes a type of growth disorder in plants. Witches’ brooms are dense masses of shoots arising from a single point on an otherwise normal branch. The shoots typically display dwarfed characteristics: slow growth, very short internodes (the space between leaves or side branches), and much smaller than normal leaves.

      Witches’ brooms can be caused by a number of factors that alter normal growth including pathogens (fungi, viruses, bacteria, phytoplasmas), parasitic plants (dwarf mistletoe), and arthropods such as mites and aphids. Other witches’ brooms result from genetic mutations that arise from unknown factors.

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  2. I looked for Witch Hazel on a UK pharmacy site, and they now apparently do a gel instead of the clear liquid I remember: “Witch Hazel Gel is a traditional, natural astringent, used to help close pores and tone the skin … combined Distilled Witch Hazel and Glycerin in a cooling and soothing gel … dissolves grease and clears oiliness … helps to keep skin clear and prevents spots and pimples… ”

    I’ve not heard of witches’ broom, though of course in Europe broom twigs were traditionally fastened together as natural brushes to sweep floors, hence the Halloween image.

    The growth disorder you describe is intriguing—again, I wasn’t aware of this at all (but then I’m no botanist).

    Liked by 1 person

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