Winter days can be drab in my neck of the woods. Hamamelis vernalis, commonly called Ozark witch hazel, provides a touch of joy to our garden. Having fragrant flowers that bloom despite the winter's hold on the landscape gets me through the tail end of the dormant season. The strong scent lures one in before even noticing the somewhat discreet flowers.
The leaves often persist through winter, concealing the star shaped flowers. Unlike the non-native species that are showy from a distance, Hamamelis vernalis requires a closer look to appreciate the orange/red inner calyx and bright yellow streamers.
Much like beech trees, the crinkled foliage rustles when the winter wind blows. But, on warm winter days, the aromatic blooms tempt pollinators that are brave enough to venture out of their dwellings.
|hover fly (Syrpidae)|
Pollinating flies commonly appear on warmer days, which are unpredictable and perhaps explain why this plant has such a long flowering time (December - March). Since there is always a relationship between plant and pollinator(s) one can assume that the flower characteristics are intended for particular pollinators.
|green bottle fly (Calliphoridae)|