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Eastern Shore Food Lab

Corylus americana - Hazelnut

A widespread shrub with a rich history and an even richer nut, hazelnuts of various species have been used by humans on several continents for centuries. The this plant is versatile, nutrient-dense, and an excellent edition to any garden, homestead, or open space.

Scientific Name:  Corylus americana

Common Name: American Hazelnut

Family: Betulaceae

Etymology: Hazel/Hazelnut: Multiple: Old English hæzel; Proto-Germanic hasalaz; Old Norse hasl; Middle Dutch and German hasel (Online etymology Dictionary).

Corylus: L. corylus, coryli: “filbert-shrub, hazel wood, hazel-tree.” (Latdict). Americana: Americana, “of/relating to America, esp. the United States.” (Merriam-Webster).

Edible Parts


Historic Medical Uses

Dermatological aid: infusion of bark used to treat hives; emetic: compound or decoction of inner bark used to induce vomiting (Cherokee). Analgesic: charcoal pricked into temples for headaches (Chippewa). Antidiarrheal; antiemetic; antihemmorrhagic: raw nuts eaten; blood medicine: compound taken to strengthen and purify blood; dermatological aid: nut meat oil; gastrointestinal aid; gynecological aid: decoction or raw nuts taken for childbirth bleeding and prenatal strength; pediatric aid; respiratory aid: compound decoction of buds used to treat hay fever; toothache treatment: compound decoction of roots for teething babies (Iroquois). Adjuvant: inner bark used in concert with other herbs for general wellness (Menominee). Dermatological aid: poultice of boiled bark used for cuts (Ojibwa). Retrieved from the Native American Ethnobotany Database.

After wind pollination, hazelnut catkins produce the nut structures.After wind pollination, hazelnut catkins produce the nut structures.


Documented Medicinal Uses

None found at this time.

Planting Considerations

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Forest Garden Layer: shrub

Additional Information

Hazelnuts are prolific in Native American ethnobotany. The Cherokee used the nuts for food. Hazelnuts served as a black dye, drumming sticks, and winter storage food for the Chippewa. The Dakota used the nuts in soups and ate them raw with honey. The Iroquois crushed fresh nut meats and boiled them to make a drink. They also used nut meats for breads, cakes, pies, puddings, sauces, relish, soup, and in certain dishes. It was also used as an insecticide when the oil was mixed with bear grease. The Menominee ate the nuts and stored them for winter food. The Meskwaki used the twigs in making baskets, brushes and brooms, and also ate the nuts. The Ojibwa also made dye with nuts mixed with butternut squash, and also made baskets, brushes, and brooms, drum sticks, and ate the nuts. The Omaha used the nuts in soups or plain and mixed with honey.