American Hazelnut

Corylus americana


Illustration of American hazelnut leaves, flowers, fruits.
American hazelnut, Corylus americana.
Paul Nelson

Betulaceae (birches)


American hazelnut is a thicket-forming, spreading shrub, attaining a height of 3–10 feet.

Leaves are alternate, simple, 2½–6" long, broadly egg- to heart-shaped; edges coarsely doubly toothed; soft-hairy below. Leaf blade with 5–8 veins on each side of the central vein.

Bark is brown to gray-brown, fairly smooth, the outer, thin layer slightly grooved.

Flowers February–April. Male flowers in yellowish catkins; female flowers inconspicuous along stem.

Fruit matures July–August; a globe-shaped nut enclosed in a leafy covering.


Height: 10 feet; spread: 8 feet.

Habitat and conservation

American hazelnut, also called hazel or American filbert, grows in dense thickets on a wide variety of soils and sites. Often associated with white oak, black oak, hickory, gray dogwood, and blackberry.

image of American Hazelnut Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide. Probably native to every county in Missouri.



Human connections

As an ornamental, American hazelnut makes a good deciduous screen or barrier and has colorful autumn leaves. The nut is prized by cooks. This plant is also good for controlling erosion.

Ecosystem connections

Bobwhites, ruffed grouse, blue jays, squirrels, and white-tailed deer eat the nuts. The catkins of this species provide important winter food for ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer, which also browse on the twigs. In addition to giving food, this species also provides valuable cover for wildlife.