Snow and flowering in the Botanical Garden!

Botany

Kristina Bjureke, kristina.bjureke@nhm.uio.no Foto: Kristina Bjureke | 20/12/12 | Oslo

The witch-hazel Hamamelis vernalis defies wind and cold and is blooming with bright yellow petals right now. The species is not native to Norway. It grows wild in the U.S. only. Early in the spring (maybe February?) the witch-hazel H. japonica from Japan and the witch-hazel H. mollis from China will start to flourish.

Witch-hazel is not a true hazel: botanically, they are far apart. The fruit of the witch-hazel is a capsule, not a nut as in the hazel.

The witch-hazel family Hamamelidaceae includes about 80 species in 25 genera, mostly domiciled in Asia. There are bushes and trees with flowers that are quite different from genus to genus. The capsule is, however, characteristic of the family. It is thick walled and woody. When it cracks in the tip, the two halves splay so that the seeds are displayed. In some species the seeds are ejected from the capsule with great force when the capsule wall contracts when drying.

All year round, it is actually possible to see flowering species in the Botanical Garden! With that, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blossoming new year!

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