A week ago, I was pleased to show my father how to identify witch hazel. But I had to respond with raised eyebrows when he said he was looking for blossoms. With a mixture of skepticism and curiosity, I wondered to myself why anything would bloom this late in the year. We didn’t find any flowers, however, and the conversation passed from my mind…

…until today, when I saw wisps of yellow in the woods around our house.

Bits of yellow in a gray wood
The witch hazel blossoms are the delicate pale yellow flowers in the foreground.

Upon closer inspection, here is what I found…

A branch of witch hazelAn individual blossomWhat a surprise! For the most part, these trees have lost their leaves, but the blossoms are in full swing.

After I finished snapping my pictures, the question returned: Why would anything be blooming now? Evidently, witch hazel has no competition from other plants for pollinating insects at this time of year. On the flip side, there are relatively few pollinators. It’s a bit of a high risk/high reward strategy.

So that’s what is happening now in the forest, but I anticipate we’ll have some more news soon…

Fallen leaf
Fallen leaf