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Chinese and Ozark witch-hazels in bloom!

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
January 27, 2016

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Chinese and Ozark witch-hazels in bloom!

witch-hazels_DirectorsBlog30With sun by midday on Sunday in the forecast, this would be a perfect time to make tracks in the snow to see the first serious flowering of the new year in the living collections. As of yesterday, two Chinese witch-hazels are in bloom, one along Meadow Road (698-94*A) and the other in the Centre Street Beds (273-29*B). A stunning display of flowers on the centenarian Ozark witch-hazel (accessioned in 1908; 6099*D) can be found on Meadow Road by Rehder Pond. Why any plant species would normally flower in the winter is a question worth pondering.

Separated by roughly 7.5 millions of years of evolutionary history (and the Pacific Ocean), the Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis) and the Ozark witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) have been brought together for a family reunion (of biogeographic disjuncts) at the Arnold Arboretum. Indeed, the Arboretum holds all five extant species of witch-hazel: H. mollis, H. japonica (Japanese witch-hazel), H. virginiana (common witch-hazel), H. vernalis, and H. ovalis (bigleaf witch-hazel). Moreover, several of the classic hybrid witch-hazels can be found on the grounds, including Arnold Promise, a cross between Chinese and Japanese witch-hazels, discovered here in 1928.

Below, some pictures I shot on Thursday and Friday. Chinese witch-hazel flowers with magnificent crimson sepals and crinkled yellow petals (top); Chinese witch-hazel with fuzzy buds just beginning to crack open (bottom left); and an Ozark witch-hazel flower with red sepals, flame-colored petals, and four anthers (with valvate dehiscence) clearly visible.

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