This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Corkscrew Hazel

Many people seem quite fascinated by the Corksrew Hazel so I thought I'd hunt out some photos to give a better idea of what its like.

Variety: Corylus Avellana Contorta, also known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corkscrew Hazel.

Question: why do plants have so many names? And in many cases, why are the names so difficult to pronounce?

Its contorted stems stand out in Winter. A real show off over the Winter months.
By early December most of the leaves have turned brown and fallen off leaving a wonder 'corkscrew' structure over Winter. A few hanger-on leaves remain over Winter. Photo taken Feb 2011. 
Yellow catkins hang down from the contorted stems, usually anytime from Feb to March, providing some additional interest.  Photo taken Feb 2011.
The plant tag says it grows up to 200 cm or 7 feet high. However, articles on the internet say the plant can grow up to 20 feet. A bit worrisome for the location I have mine planted in! Photo taken Jan 2011.
This photo and the one above it were taken from the same angle but at different times of the year - with notably different colouring. Maybe one photo was taken on a 'wet' day and the other whilst 'dry'? Photo taken Nov 2011.
Photo taken Nov 2011. 
I'm not a fan of the Corkscrew Hazel in the Summer, therefore I don't take many photos of it. I could only find this one photo. In Summer the leaves are crinkled in a way I don't find very attractive - maybe a plant for a modern or contemporary garden? Photo taken Sept 2011.
Would I recommend Corkscrew Hazel /Harry Lauder's walking stick
Definitely not for a small garden but it's an interesting plant if you have lots of room and like something a bit quirky. 


  1. I think I'd like that quirky plant in my garden! I've seen this in catalogs, but never in person. But, I'm going to go find a spot for it in my garden and give it a try! Thanks so much for the information and pictures.

  2. This is interesting plant to have in garden! Look so different!

  3. It's just cool looking! Thanks for doing a follow up post; I enjoyed seeing more pictures of it. Now..if it only had some kind of nut or fruit..then, I'd be interested in adding one to my next garden ;) Cheers, Jenni

  4. I agree with the summary Kelli - it just wasn't right for us and we found that it produced suckers the grew straight - we have two planted at the allotment to shade the car when parked. AS for the unpronounceable Latin names of plants the idea is that this name is the same wherever you live. maybe true but it doesn't help if no-one knows it by this name.

  5. When I was working in the hotel gardens guests would ask me about the names of plants trying to remember plants names in one language is hard enough but three,so my answer to them was I didnt know the name in...language but I do know what the plant likes.

  6. It's a great plant to add interest to a winter garden. It certainly stands out from the rest.

  7. I only recently (a year ago) ever heard of these trees! I love them! Unfortunately, I'm in zone 9b so can't really grow one here! thanks for the beautiful pictures and great info!

  8. I had a wee one. It died. My daughter bought the tree as a Mother's day gift, but I wasn't able to keep it alive. Not enough water, my guess. Let's see what yours looks like in the summer.

  9. Good point Sue about the suckers. My plant gets suckers that grow straight up from the base (whcih can be hard to get to where I have mine planted, and I have to cut them off every year. I think corkscrew hazel would make a really interesting garden hedge, however, quite expensive to buy the plants.

  10. That certainly is a wierd tree! I'm afraid the photos remind me too much of a bed of writhing snakes...
    I have seen Contorted Willow, which is much like this, but I think a bit less contorted.

  11. I have to agree with Mark! I immediately thought "snakes" when I first saw it in your older post. However, it is quite interesting. By the way, wonder who Harry Lauder is and how it got that common name?