Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Roadside Trees of Italy : Hazel

The hazels, Corylus  are deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere.  Hazels are place in the Betulaceae, but some botanist spit them into a separate family Corylaceae.

The fruit of the hazel is the hazelnut.

Hazel have simple rounded leaves with double-serrated margins.  There flowers are produced early in spring before the leaves.  Flowers are monoeciuos.  Fruit surrounded by involucre, with a smooth shell.  

A hazel tree are coppiced every few years.  Regenerated shoots will bear more fruits.  Hazelnuts are harvested annually in mid-autumn.  The trees will drop their nuts as well as the leaves.  The nuts are swept off the ground and separated from debris.

Corylus has 14 – 18 species :
1. Corylus americana – American hazel
2. Corylus avellana – common hazel
3. Corylus heterophylla – Asian hazel
4. Corylus yunnanensis – Yunnan hazel
5. Corylus colchica – cochican filbert
6. Corylus cornuta – beaked hazel
7. Corylus maxima – filbert
8. Corylus sieboldiana – Asian beaked hazel
9. Corylus chinensis – Chinese hazel
10. Corylus colurna – Turkish hazel
11. Corylus fargesii – Farges’ hazel
12. Corylus jacquemontii – Jacquemont’s hazel
13. Corylus wangii – Wang’s hazel
14. Corylus ferox – Himalayan hazel
15. Corylus johnsonii

Several hybrids exist, and many more cultivars were grown.

The common hazelnut, Corylus avellana, is the most extensively grown hazel for its nuts.  Nut are also harvested from other species, but apart from the filbert, none is of significant commercial importance.

Apart from the edible seed, hazel is also a traditional material used for making wattle, withy fencing, baskets, and the frames of coracle boats.  A number of cultivars are grown as ornamental plants.

Hazelnuts are used in confectionary to make pralines, chocolate truffles and a wide range of hazelnut paste products : Austrian tortes, Ukrainian Kyiv cake ; French dacquoise ; Italian frangelico, Bicerin di Gianduiotto gianduja ; Georgian churchkhela and satsivi, etc.

The most famous Italian hazelnut products is none other than Ferrero Rocher.   Ferrero’s others famous hazelnut-based products includes : Nutella and Kinder Bueno.  Ferrero is based in Alba, a town in region of Piedmont, Italy.

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