November 9, 2012
Naturalist Jonathan Schechter wrote an article last year entitled Witch of the Woods – and her name is Hazel about this small tree that actually flowers in November:
Native Americans knew this tree before the invaders with guns and axes in tall sailing ships landed on the eastern shore and carved the land to suit their wants and needs. In colonial America even as the British exchanged shots with the rebellious colonists, the shrub’s flexible forked branches was being used as “witching stick” by the dousers: folks who held the forked branches in hand waiting for the tip to point to hidden waters. Bad news for Halloween fans: The word witch in witch hazel originates from the old English word for pliable branches “wych” and has nothing to do with a lady in black straddling an airborne broom.
Your grandmother and probably your mom (and maybe you) used this plant for a wide array of medical ailments. It is found in a liquid form in almost all drug stores today and sold as an astringent, and for treaments of irritations, pain and itching, skin conditions and another 20 or 30 uses!
More about Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) on Wikipedia.