Another unusual trait is that the witch hazel is Georgia’s only native tree that has its ripe seeds, flowers and next year’s leaf bud all on the same branch at the same time. The shiny black seeds take a year to ripen. About the same time the flowers are blooming, the seeds from last year’s flowers are ejected from their capsules with a force that hurls them as far as 40 feet.
The seeds are important winter food for wildlife, and the plant’s flower nectar provides nourishment for insects active in winter.
The origin of witch hazel’s name, though, is unclear. It may come from the Middle English word “wiche,” which means a strong, flexible branch.
IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be last-quarter on Wednesday. Mercury is low in the east just before dawn. Brilliant Venus is very low in the west at dusk and sets about an hour later. Mars is in the south around dark. Jupiter is low in the west at dusk. Saturn is low in the southwest just after dark.