Meet American witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). As one of the only NY-native plants that blooms in late fall and early winter, the yellow streamer-like flowers of this shrub can be found stealing the forest spotlight now.
This plant is a fun one. We could talk about its fame as a bottled astringent, its mysterious historical use as a dowsing rod to find water, or its popularity among wildlife, but instead we’ll tell you about its seed dispersal method. While many plants passively drop their fruits and nuts to the ground below, witch-hazel takes matters into its own hands. With a snapping sound able to be heard by passerby, this plant explosively shoots its seeds outward – catapulting them distances of up to 40 feet! How’s that for a unique way to suc*seed* in the forest? Photo by Judy Gallagher