Keystone Value: The genus Corylus (Hazelnut) supports over 130 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars, providing food for a variety of birds and mammals.
American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) is a medium to large shrub that can thrive in a wide range of conditions, but it occurs naturally in thickets, upland forests, rocky hillsides, and pastures. Foliage can turn a bright yellow to deep red in the fall. It starts blooming in early spring, producing insignificant female flowers as well as male catkins that attract butterflies. American Hazelnut is also a host plant to the Io Moth (pictured above) as well as the Polyphemus Moth. Edible nuts ripen from July to October, providing food for large birds and a variety of mammals. The nuts can also be roasted and eaten or ground into flour. Since American Hazelnut is wind pollinated, we recommend planting 3-5 shrubs for optimal nut production. Its dense, low growth provides habitat for birds and other wildlife, and its an excellent choice for a hedgerow or windbreak.