Hazel Catkins

The hazel bushes in the park are flowering early this year. The catkins are already yellow with pollen; a sunny detail on a wet day.

Each catkin is made up of many male flowers. In bud, in November and December, they are small and grey but they flower bright yellow in January and February. The female flower is red and very small, like a tiny sea anemone, growing from a bud near the catkin’s stem. Hazel is wind pollinated, so produces no nectar but the pollen is a vital early food source for bees.

Hazel has a mystical reputation. It was rods of hazel that were traditionally used in water divining; hazel twigs and nuts were believed to protect against evil spirits in the home, and hazel wands were used in witchcraft.

Photographs: SMH

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