Hazel Nut Trees

If you are driving into town on Pioneer you may  have noticed the bright yellow catkins on the many hazelnut trees at the east end of Abrams Park and in many other areas.  These hazelnuts, also called filberts,  are the wild cousin of the European tree imported for producing hazelnuts.  It is our earliest flowering tree.  These trees and other members of the birch family, such as alders, do not depend on insects for pollination.  They put out so much pollen that some will  reach the female catkins.  There are few insect pollinators in the middle of winter and  these trees not needing insects, can bloom in midwinter. Unfortunately, hazelnut pollen  is a strong allergen.    Those suffering the symptoms of allergies these days can guess that it is because of the hazelnut pollen.

 

The photo above shows a close-up of a branch.  The elongated catkin produces the pollen.  The female catkin can  be seen as small buds with small red octopus like pollen collecting structures.  The developing hazel nut will grow from these buds.  Hazelnuts and walnuts are the main reason that Ridgefield supports such a large population of squirrels. Late summer and fall is a time of frenetic activity as squirrels are so busy harvesting and  burying nuts.  The relationship between nut bearing trees and squirrels is mutually beneficial.  Squirrels get a good food source and  nut trees get their seeds carried a great distance from the tree and  even buried.  Enough nuts are not recovered by squirrels so that Ridgefield is full of hazel nut and walnut trees.

About Paul Snoey

I have a degree in Biology and Environmental Science from WSU Vancouver
I am very fond of Gee Creek and Allen Canyon Creek and do a lot of volunteer work to restore these creeks.

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