One of my favorite larger native shrubs, Hamamelis vernalis, lets us know with its mid-late winter bloom that spring is not too far away! It has either golden yellow flowers with a red center or the flowers can be more of a fiery red orange. This 6-10′ tall shrub has a pleasantly sweet fragrance in the earlier stages of its blooms and will unfurl its petals in the warmth of sunlight but furl the petals back inward to protect the flowers’ more delicate features in colder, gloomier times as seen below.
It likes full sun to medium shade and can handle up to medium soil moisture so this is a good choice for wet or dry areas. Good drainage is important. Prune after flowering to keep the shrub smaller and remove root suckers as they appear unless you desire colonizing. Leaves may get leaf scorch during periods of summer drought but there is no need for concern. This is natural unless the plant is getting watered consistently. In the fall, beautiful golden yellow leaves stand out in the landscape. Seed pods come about in late summer-early fall and “shoot” seeds up to 30′ feet outward from the shrub! Wildlife benefits are to birds who eat the seeds and anything that uses the shrub for shelter. Leaves, twigs, and bark are the sources of witch hazel extract. It also has historical connections to water dowsing, or “witching.”
Check out the Mother Earth News article on water witching here.