Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Corylus cornuta var. californica (Western Hazelnut)



 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons






 Betulaceae Birch family


 Corylus L. hazelnut


 Corylus cornuta Marsh. beaked hazelnut


 Corylus cornuta Marsh. var. californica (A. DC.) Sharp California hazelnut

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

An attractive, small tree reaching 20 30 tall and 6 wide, with multiple arching branches.

The long, pendant male catkins form in late winter to give charm and ornamental value and are the first native blooms of spring.

The leaves resemble large, crinkled birch or alder leaves, although far more decorative.

The bark is smooth and the twigs often crisscross beautifully.

Squirrels like the edible nuts, as do many people! Western Hazelnut is shade and moisture tolerant and prefers a slightly alkaline soil.

This variety is native only to the west coast, but hardy USDA zones 4-8.

With a little effort, Western Hazelnut can be trained to form a unique hedge, offering a bounty of nutritious, gourmet snacks.

It's a tough species that survives attacks of civilization with grace, making an excellent tree for city planting.

Not available for sale in Oregon unless approved by Dept. of Agriculture.


From Homepage February 3, 2008

If you are not familiar with this northwest native favorite, allow me to introduce you: An attractive, small tree reaching 20 30 tall and 6 wide, often with multiple arching branches. Long, pendant male catkins form in late winter to give charm and ornamental value, the first native blooms of spring. Leaves resemble large, crinkled birch or alders, but far more decorative. Smooth bark, often with the twigs casually crisscrossed.

Squirrels like the edible nuts (as do many people, making the Western Hazelnut one of Oregon's best cash crops). Because squirrels find the nuts to be such a delightful dietary element, it is not uncommon for gardeners in Oregon to find these trees sprouting up in the most unusual places where the squirrels have cached but never retrieved them. If you're an adventurous type of gardener, you probably have a few growing in your landscape right now. Squirrels tend to stash more nuts than they eat.

Each year the Western Hazelnut catkins begin to appear among the bare branches of this lovely tree. Somewhat like the Vine Maple (Acer circinatum), the Corylus cornuta var. californica sometimes elects to grow from one main trunk or it may prefer the multi-stemmed model (my personal preference). No matter which shape is chosen, the late winter 'bloom' reminds me of a southern belle's gently swaying skirt.

True to form, the hazelnuts are now blooming all along the Willamette Valley. Western Hazelnut is shade and moisture tolerant, preferring a slightly alkaline soil. Native only to the west coast, but hardy in USDA zones 4-8. It's a tough species that survives attacks of civilization with grace, making an excellent tree for city planting.

One garden design I've seen had a pond about 5 feet across with a Hazelnut tree in natural form as a backdrop. It was a lovely combination, particularly in early spring when the leaves were gone and the catkins bloomed. Very oriental in style.

Filberts or Hazelnuts are delicious. Substitute them for walnuts or any other nuts in recipes for a gourmet twist.

Cream Filberts Cookies Recipe

From Taste of Home Cookbook (Reader's Digest Books)

Filbert nuts, also known as hazelnuts, are wrapped in cookie dough, then topped with glaze and granulated sugar.


1 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole filberts or hazelnuts


2 cups confectioner's sugar

3 Tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Granulated sugar or about 60 crushed sugar cubes

Preparation: In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Roll heaping teaspoonful into balls; press a filbert into each and reshape so dough covers nut. Place on ungreased baking sheets. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. 

Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, water, and vanilla. Dip entire top of cookies. Roll in sugar. 

Yield: about 5 dozen 

Note: These cookies are also referred to "moth balls" because of their size and appearance.

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