Hazelnut or wild filbert
Hazelnut or wild filbert (Corylus species)
Hazelnuts grow on bushes (called Hazels) 1.8 to 3.6 meters (6 to 12 feet) high with a crown spread of 10 to 15 feet. One species in Turkey and another in China are large trees. They have simple, rounded leaves with double-serrated edges and soft hairs on both sides. Flowers are produced in the early Spring and are pale yellow (male plant) or white catkins (female) The nut itself grows in a very bristly husk that conspicuously contracts above the nut into a long neck. The fruit is typically produced in clusters of one to five together with each nut held in a short, leafy husk which encloses about three quarters of the nut (or fully closed in the wild filbert variety). The nut is oval shaped, yellow-brown with a pale scar at the base.The different species vary in this respect as to size and shape but the nuts of all hazels are edible. In the United States, Hazelnut shrubs are planted to attract wildlife and game animals.
Where to Find: Hazelnuts are found over wide areas in the United States, especially the eastern half of the country and along the Pacific coast. These nuts are also found in Europe where they are known as filberts. The hazelnut is common in Asia, especially in eastern Asia from the Himalayas to China and Japan. The hazelnut usually grows in the dense thickets along stream banks and open places. The prefer well-drained loamy soil and full sun.
Edible Parts: Hazelnuts ripen in the autumn, when you can crack them open and eat the kernel. The dried nut is extremely delicious. The nut’s high oil content makes it a good survival food. When they are unripe, you can crack them open and eat the fresh kernel. The nuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat and contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6. The nuts can also be ground into paste. The seed has a thing, dark brown skin which has a bitter flavor and can be removed before eating or cooking.