The genus Hamamelis contains five species from North America and the Orient. They are highly prized for their fragrant flowers, which are borne on bare stems from mid winter to early spring, and also for their excellent yellow and orange autumn colour. Hamamelis mollis, the Chinese Witch Hazel, comes from central and Western China; ‘mollis’ refers to the foliage, which is soft and hairy. The Japanese Witch Hazel, Hamamelis japonica, is similar to the Chinese, and crosses between the two have produced several named hybrids with spidery flowers which vary in colour from pale sulphur yellow to orange red.
Common name: Chinese Witch Hazel
Botanic name: Hamamelis mollis
Deciduous upright shrub or small tree 4-5m tall, which bears scented yellow flowers on bare branches in winter. The foliage is mid green above, and downy beneath, and turns a deep golden yellow in autumn. Slow growing.
Chinese Witch Hazel can be grown in cool climate gardens in Hobart, Melbourne and the Mountains, and on cool elevated sites in Adelaide and Sydney.
winter flowering specimen plant cut flower arrangements
yellow flowers which provide a splash of winter colour flowers have a beautiful perfume autumn foliage is deep, golden yellow
an open sunny position (although they will tolerate semi-shade) fertile, loamy, acid soil good drainage
heavy pruning (keep in mind if tempted to cut flowers for indoor arrangements)
If you’re determined to own a Chinese Witch Hazel, you’ll have to be patient! Because of some propagation problems, stocks of the plant are very low in Australia at the moment. You could always try asking at your local nursery, they may just be able to track one down for you. We filmed our story at Cherry Cottage, Queen’s Avenue, Mount Wilson, NSW. Cherry Cottage will be open to the public from 9am-5pm, September 6 until mid November 1999.