Witch Hazel: Learn the Truth About this Bewitching Tree


By Kim High

A beautiful native tree is in bloom in the understory at Wildwood and other Oak Openings Region Metroparks, and just in time for Halloween. Every year in late October, the ‘spidery’ yellow flowers of witch hazel fill upland, sandy woodlands with a subtle, clean aroma similar to freshly washed clothes.

Measuring just barely larger than a shrub, what witch hazel lacks in size it makes up for in legend.

Settlers could not figure out why this tree sometimes startled their horses, causing them to rise onto two legs and whinny with fear as they passed it on trails. Since this small tree – which somewhat resembled the European hazel – seemed to be cursed, the settlers named it witch hazel.

But what’s the real reason behind the frightened horses? Join us this Friday evening, October 28, at 5:30 p.m. at Wildwood Preserve Metropark for an answer. You’ll learn several other fun facts about this tree, as well as stories about other Halloween favorites in nature.

Register online or call 419-407-9701.

Kim High is a Naturalist/Historical Interpreter at Metroparks