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Although nature is considered the best builder, sometimes it also produces strange deformities. Some of these bizarre growth forms, such as the corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), are very popular in the garden because of their special appearance.
The spiraling growth of corkscrew hazel is not due to a gene defect, as one might suspect. In fact, it is a disease that does not affect the plants any further. The leaves of the corkscrew hazel are also slightly curly. In contrast to forest and tree hazel, the corkscrew has few nuts. These are edible, but rather taste woody instead of nutty and sweet. Therefore, it is primarily used as ornamental wood.
The bizarre habit of the corkscrew hazel charms especially in winter, when the branches no longer bear leaves. Covered with a snow cap, the spiral branches appear like from another world. But it is not uncommon that the corkscrew hazel - instead of twisted branches - suddenly forms long, straight shoots. This happens because the plant is a grafted variety. It originally consists of two parts: the root of a common hazelnut and the rotated growing upper shrub part, which is called a noble rice.
A strong pruning after flowering produces long corkscrews. The wild shoots should be separated as close to the root as possible
Both parts are connected by a gardener so that they grow together into a plant. A similar effect can be observed with roses, lilac or witch hazel. The young, straight shoots of the corkscrew hazel come directly from the "wild" root and are much stronger than the twisted branches, so you should remove them as soon as possible. The best time to do so is the early spring, because in mild winters, the first kittens appear at the branches at the end of January. The growing wild shoots are simply cut off as close to the ground as possible with a pair of sharp pruning shears. Wherever possible, you can also separate the shoots from the root with a spade. This reduces the risk of a rapid re-launch.