How to Grow and Care for Beaked Hazelnut

This native shrub is hardy and low-maintenance.

Beaked hazelnut ( Corylus cornuta) shrub in the forest understory.

Craig Chanowski / Getty Images 

The beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) is a native shrub that is naturally found throughout much of the United States and southern Canada. This short, deciduous shrub is commonly found in the forest understory or along forest edges. In the fall, beaked hazelnut bears acorn-like nuts that are rich in protein and fat and play an important role in the diets of many wildlife species. This upright understory shrub is best used as a filler plant or background shrub, or in naturalized plantings. Learn how to grow this low-maintenance, nut-bearing shrub.

Botanical Name Corylus cornuta
Common Name Beaked hazelnut
Plant Type Deciduous shrub
Mature Size 12' tall
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH 6.8-7.2
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Yellow catkins (male), red flowers (female)
Hardiness Zones 3-8
Native Area North America
Beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) shrub in the autumn with orange folaige.
 Craig Chanowski

How to Grow Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked hazelnut is a species of native shrub that is found throughout most of North America - from southern Canada down to California and Georgia. This medium-sized deciduous shrub is a member of the birch family (Betulaceae) and is adaptable to a variety of growing conditions. Beaked hazelnut grows well in varying light, soil, and moisture conditions. It is also highly pollution-tolerant and thrives in inner-city locations.

Beaked hazelnut is monoecious, meaning the male and female flowers both occur on the same plant. Flowering occurs in the spring in the form of small, inconspicuous female blooms and yellow male catkins. Beaked hazelnut typically bears fruit (the hazelnut) by the fall months. These nuts are edible for humans and animals and are enjoyed by a host of wildlife including birds, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and foxes, among others!

Light

The beaked hazelnut grows well in full sun and full shade. However, full sun will result in the best bloom and densest foliage production. 

Soil

This adaptable shrub can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and is not too particular about soil type or soil pH. However, well-drained soils are best to ensure that the roots of the beaked hazelnut are never waterlogged. Beaked hazelnut is typically found in soils that are slightly alkaline with a pH between 6.8-7.2.

Water

The beaked hazelnut shrub can adapt to wet and dry growing locations and is considered to be drought-tolerant. For this reason, beaked hazelnut makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or moisture-conserving landscape design. 

Temperature and Humidity

The beaked hazelnut is the hardiest of all of the hazel species and can survive temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit) at its northern limits. It grows readily in USDA zones 3 to 8.

Fertilizer

Healthy beaked hazelnut shrubs do not require fertilization. As long as the shrub is producing flowers and fruit supplemental feeding is not needed. However, if the shrub appears unhealthy or is experiencing stunted growth a light fertilization may help boost growth. 

Varieties

There are two varieties of beaked hazelnut. These varieties are divided mainly by geography.

  • Corylus cornuta var. cornuta, also commonly referred to as the Eastern beaked hazel.
  • Corylus cornuta var. californica, also commonly referred to as the Western beaked hazel or the California hazelnut.

Growing from Seeds

To grow from seed, harvest the nuts from the shrub in the fall. Seeds are best sown as soon as they are harvested as they require a 3 to 6-month cold stratification. Sown beaked hazelnut seeds also need to be protected from rodents such as squirrels and chipmunks, so some gardeners opt to start beaked hazelnut seeds indoors to ensure they are not stolen by hungry animals.

To grow indoors, soak the beaked hazelnut seeds immediately after harvesting for 48 hours in warm water. Change the water every 24 hours to ensure it is fresh. Remove any debris and pieces that break off and float to the surface. 

Fill a resealable plastic bag with enough sand to cover the seeds completely and moisten. Push the seeds into the sand until they are covered, seal the bag, and place it in the refrigerator for three months to cold-stratify the seeds.

After the seeds have been stratified for 3 to 6 months, they can be germinated in a moistened soilless potting mix. Plant seeds an inch deep into the potting mix and place in a warm location such as a sunny windowsill. Alternatively, if you have access to a heat mat this will produce the best results. 

Once the seedlings are 10 inches tall, they can be transplanted into larger pots filled with a well-drained potting mix. Plant the established seedlings outdoors once the harsh winter weather has passed.