Hamamelis vernalis 'Washington Park'
Common Name: Ozark witch hazel
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: January to March
Bloom Description: Reddish-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Erosion, Clay Soil

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hamamelis vernalis, commonly called Ozark witch hazel, is native to the Ozark Plateau extending from southern Missouri through northwestern Arkansas to eastern Oklahoma. In Missouri, it is typically found in gravelly stream beds, bases of rocky slopes along streams and less frequently in rocky wooded hillsides where it spreads by suckers to form large colonies (Steyermark). It typically grows to 6' tall. Flowers in axillary clusters appear in mid to late winter (January-March in St. Louis) prior to the emergence of the foliage in a variety of colors ranging from pale yellow to dark reddish purple. Each flower has four, narrow, ribbon-like, curled and crinkled petals (each to only 1/3" long) that are usually red at the base transitioning to copper orange at the tip. Calyx cup is dull red. Ovate-rounded leaves (to 3” long) emerge light green with reddish-bronze tints in spring, but quickly mature to medium to dark green. Golden yellow fall color. Fruit is a non-showy dehiscent capsule which splits open in September-October to release its seeds.

Genus name comes from the Greek words hama meaning at same time and melon meaning apple or fruit in reference to the occurrence of both fruit and flowers at the same time on this shrub (particularly in the case of fall flowering members of the genus).

Specific epithet from Latin means spring in reference to the flower bloom.

'Washington Park' features mildly fragrant, reddish-purple flowers. It originated at the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, Washington. Flowers bloom in axillary clusters along bare stems from late January to March. Each flower has four, narrow, ribbon-like, straight petals (each to 1/4" long) that are reddish-purple. Calyx is purple. It typically grows in a rounded form to 5-8' tall and as wide. Obovate-rounded leaves (to 4" long) mature to blue-green. Fall color is an often exciting blend of yellow and orange maturing to red.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Caterpillars and Japanese beetles may chew on the leaves. Watch for leaf gall aphids, weevils, scale, leafroller and leafminer. Potential diseases include powdery mildew, occasional leaf spots and rots.

Garden Uses

Superior winter-flowering shrub for the landscape. Shrub borders, woodland gardens. Screen or tall hedge. Good specimen.