Corylus avellana 'Contorta'
Probably the most famous "contorted" plant. The marvellously twisty branches are particularly interesting in winter, after the leaves have dropped - the catkins remain for quite a while longer. Slow-growing - we've had ours for quite a number of years, and it's still only about 2 foot tall. The straight shoots that sucker up from the base grow much quicker, and must therefore be hacked down regularly.
||corkscrew hazel, Harry Lauder's walking stick
||ordinary garden soil
Japanese beetles like this plant - in fact, they were probably the primary cause of the demise of our specimen. Perhaps we'll grow another one some day, for now the space it occupied in our garden is sadly empty.
|The catkins, which form in fall, grow longer and fuzzier in spring |
This plant used to grow in our garden, but it slipped away...
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Visitors to this page have left the following comments
|Mike Baker||Apr 10, 2005||how/when is the best time/way to take cuttings from a harry lauder bush??|
Mine was grafted, i.e. not grown by simply rooting a cutting. I don't know much about cuttings and graftings - if anybody else knows, feel free to chime in.
|erniedfireguy||Jun 22, 2005||I have a corkscrew hazel growing in the West coast of Canada (vancouver) which is about 10 feet tall and only about 15 years old. It grows much quicker than what everyone says they do. I will take cuttings this fall and see how it goes. Don't forget to use a rooting hormone.|
|margaret johnston||Aug 11, 2005||hi, my friend fell in love with one of these he saw at a restaurant and i would like to give this to him as a gift. would you suggest buying one that is already growing or start with a seed. where is the best place to go and get one? average price? i live in southern california. please let me know your opinion on this one.
I don't think you can grow the contorted version from seed - it needs to be vegetatively propagated. Your best bet is a live plant. We got ours from ForestFarm in Oregon, which should be a good source for you as well.
|Linda Axman||Oct 17, 2005||Hi! Do you know if there is any chance that corkscrew hazel might be poisonous to pets? I have a budgie who enjoys sitting (and gnawing ) on a dried branch from a corkscrew hazel. Iím a little worried that it could make him ill.|
I doubt that it would be poisonous - but I'm hardly an authority...
|Carolyn White||May 04, 2006||My corkscrew hazel had a lot of damage last year from the japenese beetle. Any suggestion to help it stay healthy this year? Im in Orefield, pa|
Hope for a smaller infestation this year, and keep picking them off. Seriously, I haven't found anything that works. Mine got hit, too.
|Bryan Sellars||May 24, 2006||I've grown Hazels by bending a branch down and covering it with soil leaving the tip exposed to grow, after 12 months I have a new plant, don't know how it would work with the corkscrew haxel. |
|acea rokoss||Jul 27, 2006||i purchased my corkscrew hazel from a reputable dealer, it is aprox.2'tall and the base is 2" dia. with only a few leaves, branches but it is very twisted. so i am hoping to bonsai it as an outdoor/indoor in the winter, does this seem plausable? ultimately i would like it to be no bigger then 3-4', not a typical bonsai but i want to be creative. any comments would be appreciated, i live in okanagan B.C. thank you|
I know very little about bonsai - your best bet is to find a bonsai forum (you can find some here) to get input from some subject experts.
|Sara||Aug 11, 2006||My hazel tree is about 4 years old and this year something is plaguing it. It had some dead spots that I assumed was from the winter, but branches keep dying and the bark has little splits and inside is black. Does anyone know what this is? I know little about molds or any bug that would do this. |
|Stephen Puerini||Jun 03, 2008||I have two dying corylus avellana contorta suffering from eastern hazelnut blight. a qualified arborist attempted some treatment but with no good results. i have already sacrificed one and will replace them both since i love the tree. is there anything i need to do to the soil to prevent disease to the new plants? or, is it sufficient to simply discard the tree and clean the tools? what preventive measures can i take to prevent problems with the new specimens?
My condolences on your contortas... I have no idea how to prevent recurrence - the arborist who assisted you earlier should be able to provide some help.
|Diana||Jun 29, 2008||My corkscrew is about 7 years old and about 4 1/2 feet tall. I regularly cut the straight suckers from the base and it has been thriving for me for about 6 years. This year, though, the top 8-10 inches are completely without leaves. What can be happening? Shall I watch it? Shall I cut the top? I live in Shelton CT.|
I'm afraid I don't know - I guess these can be finnicky, based on my own experience. I'd cut back to the healthy part and hope for the best. Your local agricultural extension may be able to provide more specific help.
|mary ellen marlette||Jul 01, 2008||My Harry is about 6 years old. Looks great except this past weekend I noticed in the center some dead leaves on one of the branches, it was fine a week ago...I wasn't thinking about beetles till I read the above. Will check that, any other thoughts on what might cause this?? We have had a really rainy summer, but other than that all is about the same. tks|
|pete||Jul 14, 2008||Actually you don't know very much at all. why should anyone ask you a question.|
Thank you for your friendly comment. I never pretend to be an expert horticulturist, but am happy to help when I can.
|deanne||Jul 28, 2008||I have 3 corylus avellana contorta which are the focal point in my garden. They spectacular specimens all 10 -12 ft high, 6-8 ft. wide. I cherish these trees because they are my winter attraction. They have thrived for the past 4 years and have been carefully tended, pruned and micro fed. This year all three are dying and I am distraught. Two arborists have examined them and can find no cause. I'm in Chicago in a typical city lot. Any suggestions?|
I'm sorry to hear about your hazels' lot. We were sad to see ours give up the ghost too, although our specimen wasn't nearly as large as yours. I'm afraid I have no advice...
|Harry Lauder 'Walking stick'||Oct 19, 2008||It appears that the "over tending" to the plants...microfeeding & pruning caused them to give in to the "attention"...Guess "restarting" & letting it be more "hands off" would do the trees better :) |
|Diddy||Oct 29, 2008||Can this plant be kept indoors?|
I've not tried, but I wouldn't recommend it.
|Helen||Nov 09, 2008||I have a corylus avellana contorta, and there are a few straight shoots coming up. I was presuming they contort in the second year, but from reading on your page, am I wrong? Should I be cutting them off? Thankyou|
Straight shoots from the roots or understock will not contort - they will be more vigorous than the main tree, so it's best to remove them before they grow into the contorted part.
|Martin Rudman||Jan 07, 2009||I had 2 contorted hazelnuts when we lived in northern Illinois. We now live in Palm Desert CA (near Palm Springs) which I think is zone 10. It rarely freezes here, but can get to 115 degrees in July & August....Will the contorted hazelnut survive in the desert of S. California??|
|Ernie||Apr 20, 2009||I have a corkscrew hazel approx. 12' tall and at least as wide on my front lawn. Never have I fertilzed it (except when the lawn fertilizer spilled over) and only pruned it when it became invasive. This thing grows like a weed! It has totally taken over the initial planting spot to the point where I'm thinking of removing it and selling the branches to a garden center. Whenever any type of blight (once) hit it, I removed the damaged area and it never returned. I live in the Vancouver area, zone 7. I'm going to try cuttings and give them away if I can.|
|Tammy||Apr 20, 2009||Hey, Ernie! I would love to have one of your cuttings! I am looking for a plant. Does anyone know where I can buy one?|
|Joe||Apr 22, 2009||I purchased an estate that had the Corylus (Harry), growing on it for about 25 years. It was over 25 feet high and 20 feet wide. I had straight shoots that were over 15 feet high. I cut those. They would make good lodge poles. I didn't pay attention to the garden for a number of years and the straight shoots took over and killed the main tree. (SO CUT THE SUCKERS) I thought for years that this was some exotic tree from Japan. Yesterday Home Depot had 2 examples for sale and I finally found out the proper name, leading me to this Web site. So ends a mystery.|
|Ernie||Apr 23, 2009||These are available at most garden centers but are rediculously priced. A small 2 footer is on sale at Cedar Rim Nurseries in Langley for $40. Definately remove the suckers, they are not only unsightly but will take over. Tammy, where do you live?|
|Sunshine in Michigan||May 12, 2009||I too have a Contorted Filbert. I also suffered a bit with the Japanese Beetles last year. To combat them, I went to my local Lowes store and bought some dust powder called "Seven" the stuff worked awesome to guard against the beetles. The only problem with that is the rain. Obviously when it rains, the dust needs to be reapplied. This dust also works well for Basil. They almost completely killed my Basil last year and the seven kept them away. It's a little pricey, but it's worth it. If you don't have the money for "Seven", try some warm water mixed in with dish soap in a spray bottle. That seemed to work also. Good luck! |
|Suzanne||May 19, 2009||I think 'Sunshine' may be referring to Sevin (not Seven), a pesticide that is also used here in Virginia against Japanese beetles. I wouldn't recommend spraying it on food (such as basil) without more research...|
|Keith||May 28, 2009||I have one small corylus avellana contorta growing in a rather large pot which I was told this would be ok because the tree is a slow grower. The problem I am having is the leaves seem to be very sparse this year. I have applied Holy tone which was recommended. My question is how much fertilizer do you recommend for this potted tree I do not want to burn the roots.|
I'd be cautious about fertilizing. This plant does not insist on acid soil; a general slow-release fertilizer, dug into the soil according to package directions, should be just fine. Good luck.
|Nancy||Jun 04, 2009||Hello! I recently transplanted a Harry Lauder and it appears the branches are dead as only shoots are coming up (vigorously, I might add)from the base of the trunk. Should I cut these off and hope it will put energy into the beautiful branches?
Thanks very much!|
You could try - but to be honest I'm not hopeful that your Harry will return to life, if there are no actively growing leaves on the contorted parts by this time.
|lulugrows||Jun 09, 2009||Glad to find your site and to read other comments re: this sculptural wonder! I am researching if I should grow this specimen near Chicago. How long did you have yours for? I love the winter interest of this tree, but what is your opinion of how it looks in mid summer and fall?|
While not as starkly architectural, it is still an interesting plant while in full leaf. Ours lasted for about five or six years, I think.
|Ernie||Jun 14, 2009||Ours is a mass of leaves. The twisted branches are all but invisible, giving the birds a sanctuary. The Stellar Jays take absolutely every nut this thing produces. I could throw a net over it but that would essentially ruin the entire appearance. It has really taken over the front yard, measuring at least 40 feet in circumference and 15 feet high.|
|michelle||Jul 06, 2009||I'm in Sarnia Ontario and I just pulled up my four year old cork screw hazel. Very droopy leave and braches drying out and brittle. Poor thing just did this in the last month. Last year it was fine. Didn't notice any bugs or beetles on it. Good root system when I pulled it up. It's a mystery to me????|
|susan||Jul 19, 2009||Would anyone ever recommend pruning branches only to encourage more growth of
new branches? I have one two foot horizontal branch with few shoots and I have
concern about the weight of snow upon it in the winter, even its eventual weight
ripping it from the trunk to which its attached.
|Craig-Utah||Jul 29, 2009||I live 30 miles west of Salt Lake City--just south of the Great Salt Lake. Summers are hot and dry; winters are are below freezing and very windy. Will these bushes survive the climate? I have an automatic drip irrigation system, so watering isn't a problem. Can they handle the cold winter winds and the dry heat of summer? Thanks!|
Craig, I prefer not to give advice for climates that are far afield from mine. Best to ask some local gardeners whether they've grown it. Or maybe somebody else will chime in here. Good luck!
|Mary, Enid Oklahoma||Oct 01, 2009||Love your site.....I'm on my 3rd HLW....just love them. I planted the last yesterday. it showed heat stress from summer, but I hope that is only temporary, but it is rather late for planting, so I plant to cover a lot this winter. If love will keep it alive, it will live forever. Mine is in a patio, where I can see it all winter from my easy-chair. I'm looking forward to a loving relationship with my new "Harry" for the rest of my life!!! Don't pay any attention to "Pete"---I think you provide a great service for all to enjoy.....|
|dan - chi burbs||Oct 21, 2009||Agree, great site. We've had "Harry" (aren't they all named that?)for 3 years and have had nice, albeit slow growth. But, the leaves have been limp and soft each year. Branches and stems are strong - just limp leaves. He's not excessively dry and sits high enough to be fairly well drained. Any thoughts? Thnx|
|christy||Mar 13, 2010||I have a hazel corkscrew tree i was wondering if i can root branches? like the willow you can put branches into water and roots will grow.|
I doubt it. The fact that they are usually sold as grafted trees suggests that simple rooting isn't likely to be successful. But I can't say that I've tried...
|Jill||Mar 23, 2010||I just purchased a potted Corylus Avellana Contorta and was trying to find out how often you water the plant when it is potted. The nursery did not have alot of information on this plant, but I absolutely love the look of it.
In the ground, this plant was not overly thirsty. It would obviously need more attention in a pot. I imagine Harry will tell you himself if you pay attention, until you figure out a routine. If you have a reasonably well-draining potting mixture, I don't think over-watering is a concern, so you could err on the side of more water for a while.
|Carol||Apr 25, 2010||I received a propagated plant from a friend. It does not seem to be contorting. Can you give some helpful hints or is this common in propagated plants. It is 3 years old and about 2 feet tall in a pot.|
Depends on how it was propagated. I certainly wouldn't expect seedlings to come true. At 3 years, I think you would see its contorting habit if it were going to have it.
|tdogkelly||May 02, 2010||Cool sight, Getting ready to purchase above tree. Is the Red Majestic variety only different in leaf color? |
I'm not familiar with Red Majestic. Enjoy your purchase, whichever one you choose!
|Lesley||May 15, 2010||I am thinking of planting a corkscrew hazel...and was thinking of putting it on the outside of a pool area. Can anyone tell me how "dirty" they are and if they do "drop" anything, what time of year is it. Thanks.|
|Carla||Jun 16, 2010||I bought a Harry Lauder in Oct last year which i was told by the nursery would be fine in my porch area.It was thriving lovely until late April when the catkins started to go brown and drop off,a few weeks later leaves started to grow but were brown around the edges since then it has been bare i have know got to small green buds but the buds that formed before went brown and fell off any ideas as this plant cost me £80 and i need help its not dead yet but i cant let it die, thanks|
Sorry to hear about your filbert's struggles, Carla. I'm afraid it sounds like you're experiencing an episode of sudden Harry death, much like ours went through. I haven't had the heart to re-establish a new specimen yet. Good luck finding the care regimen to revive yours.
|L.||Jun 21, 2010||I live in zone 6 and had two contortas that thrived for many years. In fact, a visiting arborist told me that my larger specimen was worth $5000. Woe is me...within a couple of years both had gradually died from some kind of blight that no one seems to be able to pinpoint. Sure, japanese beetles were sometimes a problem, but I don't believe this was the cause of their demise. My neighbors' newer bush across the street succumbed a couple of years later. I recently purchased a couple of "red majestic" varieties and want to try again. I also have a related witch hazel tree ("arnold's promise")that does great until it leafs out completely each year, then many of the leaves brown out. It has done this for many years, seemingly without much consequence. I always remove the annoying suckers at the base, which saps the tree's energy.
Does anyone out there have any new info or ideas to try? I'm more interested in organic solutions than non. |
|G||Jun 27, 2010||We have two 20year old contortas on either side of our garden gate. They are about 10 feet tall and have formed a lovely arch. This spring we noticed one of them dying back and now there are only a few branches with leaves, although the suckers do not seem to be affected. I am afraid it may have "Eastern Filbert Blight," although I have not seen any cankers. I hate to think it is dying of old age, but I guess that is possible. Has anyone had experience with this blight; is it always fatal? And should I expect the other plant to contract it as well? Thanks|
|Adam||Jul 27, 2010||I just purchased my first contorta this spring after seeing it in the garden at the Smithsonian Castle in DC. I live in MD, and the contorta is not doing well. It is in full sun, which appears to be too much for the small plant. It is two feet tall and most of it's leaves have dropped or are half dry. It's been watered regularly and the soil was well mended with organic matter. Does anyone know if the sub-tropic summers in the DC area are too much for this beloved plant to be in full sun? |
|chrissy al||Sep 28, 2010||i planted my corkscrew hazel 2 years ago and have only just discovered after reading this page that i should have pruned back the straight shoots as they shot up. i have done so today but they were quite thick - almost as thick as the main stem. is there likely to be any lasting damage? wondering if i should dig up the whole thing in order to completely remove these straight stems at the root? thanks very much in advance for any advice.|
I don't think you'll see any lasting damage from your pruning operation. I would advise against digging it up, given the finnicky nature of this plant (as documented by my experience and the comments above). Lopping off new sprouts from the base a few times a year should be all that is needed to keep it looking good.
|Arlindo Almeida||Feb 22, 2011||Today, I bought one corscrew straight with the promise that it produce hazel nuts. Did the nursery people fooled me ? As many participants referr contorta schrubs. Or trees ? |
|Stephen Dubret||Apr 08, 2011||We bought one about 2 feet high last year. It had leaves on it when it arrived, but they gradually dried up and fell off over a few summer months. We have it in a very large pot. I know it is still alive because at all of the joints (elbows of the little twisted branches,) it has all these little buds that are each about 1/8th inch long. These "buds" have been there all winter (here in San Diego) and it's now April. What will these little buds become? Leaves? Catkins? Will they ever burst forth? (They're Green!) I Never watched this plant grow before so I don't know when they leaf out, drop leaves, or produce catkins. |
Sounds like it suffered from transplant stress last summer, since leaves would normally be retained until mid-autumn. I think you're looking at leaf buds - and hope they will soon reward your patience with some new growth! I'm a little concerned though, since in your climate I would have expected growth to have resumed by now.
|Mary Miller||Apr 19, 2011||The deer injured the bark of my contorted filbert near the base with their horns. Was wondering if there is a dressing I should apply to cover the damaged sites? |
|Norman Sigel||May 01, 2011||My contorta is about 17 feet tall and twelve feet wide. The tree is 27 years old and this spring it did not flower. We have lost it. Does anyone know what the life span is?I am not cutting it down. It has now become part of the landscape It look great with no leaves as anyone whp has one will know.|
|Gillian||May 19, 2011||I just purchased a Contorta red majestic. I plan on planting it in a large pot. The exposure is south/west with cool mornings and heat in the mid-day.
Thanks for all the above comments. I do not know if we have a beetle problem here. I live in the Gulf Islands off British Columbia. I would appreciate any suggestions or comments on pot growing of this specimen.|
|Dawn||May 29, 2011||Today I had to deal with the demise of my 14 year old Harry Lauder's Walking Stick/Contorted Witch Hazel. Although the catkins and buds formed on the branches this spring, half of them didn't open by Memorial Day. I looked up diseases on the internet and found Eastern Filbert Blight. In a panic, I found a photo of it which confirmed my fears. I just spent half the afternoon pruning all of the afflicted branches, but feel that my lovely tree is doomed. I disagree with the comment above that indicates that this species has a finicky nature! During the entire time that I have cared for this tree, the only thing I've had to deal with was trimming straight shoots from its base. Other than that, it has been an easy-to-care-for tree and a total delight to own. It grew to be approximately 7' tall and bushed outward beautifully, approximately 6' or so. I'd hoped to be able to always have it to view outside my kitchen window. But for this blight, I would have! Anyone who owns this tree should know of the blight. From what I've read, moisture is not the cause of it but early diagnosis and pruning of the afflicted branches is the only cure. I wish others the best of luck with these beautiful trees. I doubt that I will grow another since the loss of this one has been very depressing!|
|J||May 29, 2011||Our Harry is about 18 years old and has been thriving. It is about 12 feet tall and a stunner. Today I found holes in the leaves and it is wilted and brown. There are several dead branches. This happened overnight. Yikes! Any suggestions?|
|Ian||Jun 20, 2011||I work in an area that was once a well known garden in Porirua, New Zealand. There are two corkscrew hazel tree on the site, that are about 90 years old. These trees have a stright trunk for about 5 feet and then for about 12-15 feet sre very twisted. This would make a great climbing tree for kids
I would be instrested to know about trees like these. Thanks|
|Harrys Girlfriend||Oct 16, 2011||I live in WA state and I have a Harry that is thriving!! It is about 10ft tall! I found it on our property 7 years ago and dug it up and replanted it when it was 1 ft tall. I did not know what it was until I got on this site. My question is, I want to propogate. What is the best way to get info on helping my Harry have some babies?|
|Cathryn||Feb 16, 2012||I am currently rooting cuttings of HLWS that were in a floral arrangement. My mother-in-law would be laughing and pleased that the 'sticks' that were in a floral arrangement for her funeral are GROWING! I can hear her now, "Oh Cathy, if anyone could make a dead stick grow, it's you!" We kept the cut flower arrangement in water the whole time and when the flowers started fading, I started removing the spent flowers. When I removed the 'sticks' and other greenery, I noticed ROOTS! I looked up what the 'curly sticks' might be and read that HLWS cuttings were often used in floral arrangements. YIPPEE!!! I also am using 'willow water' and my SUNBOX "happy light" (it's mid-Feb.) It's been almost a month and the roots are 1-2" long. I'm going to have to think about the next growing medium in which to gently place the rooted cuttings. If anyone has any idea, I'll welcome it! HLWS's roots are VERY fragile! And it appears that cuttings can be rooted, so I'll have Harry on his own 'feet' very soon! |
|Jess||Mar 16, 2012||Have had our "walking man's stick" in Chicagoland area for 6 years. It is almost 5 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide and looks so nice!!! Really only thing I do is water it and when the leaves start looking burnt or holey I cut them off w scissors. And that is it. My plant this year finally has produced the catkins. Really cool! Sorry to see all the problems people have w/ theirs!|
|owner||Mar 19, 2012||Regarding the comment above about the suitability of the Washington DC region for the HLWS, I can confirm that its a great place for one. I have one in my front yard (I'm in NoVA)that a certified arborist told me was the largest specimen he has seen. Its about 13x10 ft. It resides in the shade of a giant magnolia and my house. It is planted in a well drained area. The growth has been quite robust every spring I have had it. The suckers are very fast growing and need to be dealt with maybe 4 times per season. I had some work done on my home recently and the plant sustained some damage, being broken off in a quite a few places. Already this year it is producing the dangly catkins(?). In the summer it provides a dense privacy screen which is usually home to some birds nest. |
|Mt Pleasant Iris Farm||May 02, 2012||I have wanted one of these trees for years, just bought a red one today. Looking it up brought me to this site. Nice forum. re:Fall deer antler rubbing, we find that driving 5, 6-7ft rebar a foot into the ground spaced about 6-8 inches from the trunk of the tree does the trick. The rebar after a few months blends into the landscape, and people do not see them. Once the tree trunk gets to be 8 inches in diameter the rebar can be removed. In twenty years we have not lost one Acer, fruit, or any other ornamental to buck rubbing. I also do this with shrubs to give them a head start, works great. |
|Kelly||May 23, 2012||I'm so sad - I've had a beautiful Harry for almost 11 years and just found that it has Eastern Filbert Blight. I took it to Cornell Cooperative Extension for verfication. As I looked closer, trying to remove infected branches, I found large, main branches affected. After searching the internet, the prognosis doesn't look good. Oregon State has the best treatment suggestions but all the cankers have to be cut out.|
|A. John Miele||Jul 09, 2012||I have a 3 year old Harry Lauder Walking stick in Rockport MA and also a Red Majestic Corylus which is much smaller. The "walking stick " has something eating its tender young leaves.....I looked for the culprit and it looks like these little caterpillar type worms with beige fur that are eating the new shoots. Any suggestion as what to spray on this problem?|
I don't have much experience with sprays, but I believe an application of B.t. (the type specific to caterpillars) would be a suitable solution.
|Noel||Oct 03, 2012||Does anyone know if this plant is poisonous to dogs?|
|Christina||Oct 15, 2012||I am also wondering if it is poisonous to dogs, my 150 lb dog chewed it as a pup and died at age 4 of a rare disease usually caused by toxins, wondering now if this could have been cause. But I've now moved it up front away from back/dogyard, and no other dogs have gotten sick. |
|gillian haycock||Feb 03, 2013||I would like to move my plant (old mans walking stick) when is the best time of year to do this. many thanks.|
|Yvonne||Mar 05, 2013||my twisted corkscrew is about 7years old and I think I have bonsai'd it unwittingly I have it in a pot about 24inches by 24 inches and every 2-3 years I lift it out take the bottom half of old soil and roots out and pop it back in with fresh compost its branches are small and really twisted and at this moment has its catkins on getting ready to open up. I love it oh! and I just cut the suckers of at the base.. So its doing really here in Blackpool England
|Alvin Cohen||Apr 24, 2013||I have what appear to be straight branches growing from contorted branches as well as from the base on my corylus contorta plant. Do straight branches grow from contorted ones and ,if so, should they be cut off as well? Thanks for any help you can give me.|
I would say yes, remove the straight branches. Although I'd be concerned with the long-term viability of keeping your contorted hazel looking right if the straight new growth is a consistent problem.
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common mis-spellings: avellanus
July 21, 2007