Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, migratory birds are showing back up at Forest Park and sending out their mating calls, and Ozark witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) is in bloom and quite fragrant. All of these are signs that spring is just around the corner (despite the upcoming cold snap this week!). Witch hazel is a welcome sight this time of year when not a lot of other plants are blooming. It gets to be a large shrub and can be used in the landscape as an ideal winter-flowering shrub, in shrub borders, woodland gardens, or in hedge rows.
This plant was used for “water witching” in the past and is also known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties. This is why you find toners and tonics in pharmacies and some grocery stores featuring witch hazel.
You can check out (and sniff out) this shrub at places like Missouri Botanical Garden, Forest Park, and Shaw Nature Reserve.