[size=75]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [/size]
The Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) is a species of hazel native to Europe and western Asia, from the British Isles south to Iberia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, north to central Scandinavia, and east to the central Ural Mountains, the Caucasus and northwestern Iran.
It is typically a shrub reaching 3-8 m tall, but can reach 15 m. The leaves are deciduous, rounded, 6-12 cm long and across, softly hairy on both surfaces, and with a double-serrate margin. The flowers are produced very early in spring before the leaves and are monoecious, with single-sex wind-pollinated catkins; the male catkins are pale yellow and 5-12 cm long, while the female catkins are very small and largely concealed in the buds, with only the bright red 1-3 mm long styles visible. The fruit is a nut, produced in clusters of one to five together, each nut held in a short leafy involucre (‘husk’) which encloses about three quarters of the nut. The nut is roughly spherical to oval, 15-20 mm long and 12-20 mm broad (larger, up to 25 mm long, in some cultivated selections), yellow-brown with a pale scar at the base. The nut falls out of the involucre when ripe, about 7-8 months after pollination.
It is readily distinguished from the closely related Filbert (Corylus maxima) by the short involucre; in the Filbert the nut is fully enclosed by a beak-like involucre longer than the nut.
Common Hazel is used by a number of species of Lepidoptera as a food plant.
The scientific name avellana derives from the town of Avella in Italy, and was selected by Linnaeus from Leonhart Fuchs’s De historia stirpium commentarii insignes (1542), where the species was described as “Avellana nux sylvestris” (“wild nut of Avella”).
The Common Hazel is an important component of the hedgerows that were the traditional field boundaries in lowland England. The wood was traditionally grown as coppice, the poles cut being used for wattle-and-daub building and agricultural fencing.
Hazelnuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat. Moreover, they contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins. Additionally, for those persons who need to restrict carbohydrates, 1 cup (237 ml) of hazelnut flour has 20 g of carbohydrates, 12 g fibre, for less than 10 net carbohydrates.