As the days grow short and the cold settles in, the witch hazel tree presents sprays of pale gold blossoms to brighten the path outside the Center for Environmental Education. Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a Maine native. Ruffed grouse enjoy its seeds and deer nibble its twigs and leaves. Witch hazel bark, leaves, and twigs are used to make witch hazel lotion, useful in treating several mild medicinal problems. It seems that the tree is most important, though, for its beautiful, untimely display of blooms, which take us by surprise year after year.
Chewonki’s witch hazel tree was given to us in 2001 by the Applewild School in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Applewild students and teachers have come to our Outdoor Classroom for decades. We are grateful for the friendship and the tree.