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Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

 

Harry Lauder’s walking stick

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFagalesBirch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others
FamilyBetulaceaeBirch family: birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams and hop-hornbeams
GenusCorylusFrom the Greek korylos and the Latin corylus or corulus, “hazel, “ and a Latin name for the hazelnut or filbert. OR from the Greek korylos, or korys, “helmet,” referring to the husk on the nut
SpeciesavellanaFrom Avella Veccia (southern Italy) or Avellino (city east of Naples where this plant was much cultivated and called nux Avellana by the Romans)
Cultivar‘Contorta’Refers to the twisted branches

About plant names...

Hazelnuts, the fruits of Corylus avellana, or European hazelnut, are popular plain, or ground as a paste, or as a flavoring in chocolate and coffee. Hazelnuts have long been cultivated for their nutritious nuts. The ‘Contorta’ variant has fantastically contorted branches and twisted leaves. Apparently a natural variety, it was first discovered in Great Britain during the mid-1800s, by Victorian gardener Canon Ellacombe. Scottish singer and comedian Sir Henry Lauder (1870-1950) adopted a branch from this shrub as his comically twisted cromach (walking stick), hence the com­mon name.

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

Sir Henry Lauder, in full Highland regalia—kilt, sporran, tam o’ shanter, and twisted walking stick.

Plants: These deciduous shrubs reach a maximum height of 8-10' (2.4-3 m), and have a rounded appearance.

Leaves: Hairy, alternate, elliptic to ovate, and doubly serrate. Leaves are 2-4" (5-10 cm) × 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) in size. I’ve never seen a specimen whose leaves weren’t wrinkled and bent, as if in sympathy for the branches.

Flowers: Male flowers, catkins, are yellowish-brown and 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) long. Female flowers are very small, with red stigmas, appearing just above the catkins. Flowers appear from March to April.

Fruits: Hazelnuts are embedded in a hard shell that is, in turn, surrounded by a leafy outer husk that tapers to a fairly sharp tip. The nuts appear from August to September.

Edibility: Hazelnuts have been cultivated for centuries.

Online References:

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ on www.friendsgbg.org.au (PDF)

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ on www.pnwplants.wsu.edu

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ on Wikipedia Harry Lauder, the performer

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ on Rob’s Plants

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

6/17/2012 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm)

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 22 Sep 2020.

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Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

3/22/1999 · By Constance B. Kent

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

3/30/2013 · Stan and Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

8/1/2009 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME
≈ 33 × 50" (83 × 125 cm)

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

7/24/2010 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 31 × 46" (78 × 117 cm)

Corylus avellana (Harry Lauder’s walking stick)

9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm)

Range: Zones 4-8:

About this map...