Beaked Hazelnut (Cornuta)

The Beaked Hazelnut (Cornuta) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Beaked Hazelnut (Cornuta) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Beaked Hazelnut (Cornuta) will reach up to 12 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 12 feet.

The Beaked Hazelnut (Cornuta) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -38°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Beaked hazelnut is commercially grown for the edible nuts and used in wildlife habitat plantings to provide cover and nuts, which are eaten by squirrels, deer, grouse and pheasant. American Indians -- picked in early autumn, stored until fully ripe, and then roasted or eaten raw, also used the nuts. They were pounded into cakes with berries, meat, or animal fat and also boiled to extract the oil, which was used as flavoring. The nut's milk was used to cure coughs and colds, to heal cuts, and as an astringent. The wood was fashioned into arrows, fishing traps, hooks, and spoons and the long, flexible shoots were twisted into rope.

Beaked hazelnut has limited ornamental value and cultivars apparently have not been developed.

General Characteristics

General: Birch family (Betulaceae.: Native shrubs or small trees growing 1-8(-15) meters tall, rhizomatous and forming colonial thickets; main stems (or trunk) straight, with spreading, ascending branches, the twigs light brown, sometimes with glandular hairs. Leaves are deciduous, alternate, nearly round to narrowly ovate or ovate-oblong, with a heart-shaped or rounded base, often nearly angular and slightly lobed near the tip, 4-10 cm long, blunt to broadly acute, doubly serrate, usually pubescent on major veins and in vein axils, the petiole with or without glandular hairs. Male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers are separate, but both types present on each plant (the species monoecious); male flowers numerous in long, pendulous stalks (catkins) 4-6 cm long, in clusters of 2-3 near branch tips, appearing in the fall but opening the following spring; female flowers: several in a scaly bud, tiny and inconspicuous with only bright red stigma and styles protruding from the otherwise gray-brown buds, almost completely enclosed by bracts, near the end of the twigs. Fruit is an acorn-like nut about 2 cm in diameter, completely concealed by two, leafy, coarsely toothed (husk-like) bracts fused at the tip and forming an extended tubular beak. The common name refers to the bracteal beak of the fruit; “hazel” from the Old English name for filbert.

Variation within the species: beaked hazelnut is divided into two distinct entities:

Corylus cornuta Marsh. var. cornuta synonym: Corylus rostrata Ait. Corylus cornuta var. californica (A. DC.) Sharp synonym: Corylus californica Rose synonym: Corylus rostrata var. californica A. DC. synonym: Corylus cornuta var. glandulosa Boivin

Var. californica differs from var. cornuta in habit, leaf shape, the presence of glandular hairs, form and size of the involucre, geography, and other features, summarized in the contrast below.

1. Small to large shrubs; leaf blades ovate to narrowly elliptic, apex distinctly acuminate; twigs and petioles without glandular hairs; bracteal beak 2 times or more the fruit length. …………..........………........... var. cornuta 1. Large shrubs or small trees; leaf blades nearly round or broadly elliptic, apex broadly acute to obtuse; twigs and petioles usually with glandular hairs; bracteal beak less than 2 times the fruit length. ................................................... var. californica

Preliminary studies of the beaked hazelnut complex world-wide, one North American species with two varieties or subspecies and one east Asian species with two varieties, indicate that Corylus cornuta var. cornuta is overall more similar in morphology to the east Asian C. sieboldiana Blume than to var. californica, suggesting that C. cornuta is better regarded as two separate species.

Required Growing Conditions

and Adaptation Var. cornuta: eastern north America from Alabama and Georgia (Appalachian) northward to Newfoundland, westward through Canada and the Great Lakes states to northeast British Columbia, with several disjunct population systems. Open woods or openings, edges of woods, thickets, fencerows, and roadsides and other disturbed areas, slopes and well-drained streamsides, at 100--500 meters elevation. Flowering early spring, before leafing; fruiting fall.

Var. californica: from the northern half of California to Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia, along the pacific coast. Damp rocky slopes and stream banks in coastal mountain ranges, at 1000--2500 meters elevation. Flowering: very early spring, before leafing; fruiting: fall.

Cultivation and Care

No information available; probably similar to American hazelnut.

General Upkeep and Control

Beaked hazelnut is removed by growers of commercial closely managed forests, primarily because of its aggressive colonial habit and corresponding competition with timber trees.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Tolerant
Height When Mature 12
Vegetative Spread Slow
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -38
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.5–7 pH
Precipitation Range 30–30 inches/yr
Planting Density 700–1700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Minimum Frost-Free Days 90 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability High
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA