No, I am not talking about the Dig This! editor Hazel! I am talking the Witch Hazel shrub which is native here in New Hampshire. I was talking a walk down at the Discovery Center at Sandy Point in Stratham and came across this rather large specimen. It is located at the start of the circle on the woodland boardwalk.
The leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana is used to produce the astringent known as Witch Hazel. It is rich in natural tannins. This plant extract was widely used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans. When the Europeans arrived they named the plant after a similar one found in the Old World. One interesting thing about this herbal shrub is that its tiny flowers bloom in the fall. Folk lore tells us that the suspicious Europeans found this peculiar and thus dubbed it witch-like. The use of the twigs as divining rods likely influenced the name as well.
You can buy Witch Hazel at any drugstore. I use the product myself, as it is a very good natural treatment for cleansing and soothing your skin. I rather favor the Thayers brand.