How to ID, Harvest and Enjoy Wild Hazelnuts

There are two species of hazelnuts, both native, that grow in the wild in our area typically in woodland borders or thickets. Sites receiving more sunlight are more likely to produce more nuts.

How to Identify –

American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), which look like the filberts you will find in grocery stores, and Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta). The husk surrounding the individual or, more often, cluster of nuts is the easiest way to distinguish between the two species.

Your targets will look like these:

This is the nut of American Hazelnut.

American Hazelnut

Read more about American Hazelnut from a sample page from one of my wildflower guides.

This is the nut of Beaked Hazelnut.

Beaked Hazelnut

Read more about Beaked Hazelnut from a sample page from one of my wildflower guides. Read even more info about Beaked Hazelnut.

How to Harvest –

I usually begin collecting ripened hazelnuts during the last week or so of August. To wait any longer ensures that the chipmunks and red squirrels (and other foragers!) will have already been there to collect the delicious nuts.

Each is ripe when the shell has turned to a brown color, which occurs before the outer husk turns brown.  However, do not pick any nut if its shell is green, cream or whitish in color – it is simply not yet ripe.

When picking them, I recommend wearing leather gloves (or rubber dishwashing gloves) because of the tiny sticky hairs on the husks.  If you don’t, your fingertips can become quite painful to the touch – it may feel like you’ve been handling fiberglass insulation.

Read more about how to recognize these two species and how to harvest the nuts.

I remove the husk from each nut while I am picking them. However, you can also let your harvest air dry for several days; doing do should enable you to peel the husk off of each nut more easily.

After you remove the outer husk, I suggest that you put all of your harvested nuts (still in shell) into a sink filled with 2-3” of water. Do so for two reasons: (1) remove any floaters, and (2) rinse any debris from the shells. You should discard the floaters because none of those shells contain a ripened nut. Floaters result from either the nut not forming (perhaps due to a dry summer period) or there is a larva inside that is devouring the nut and will soon make its exit by burrowing through the shell!  Let your husked harvest air dry for at least a couple of weeks before cracking open – doing so will help ensure the nut separates easily from the shell when you crack them open and it will be ample time for any larvae to make their escape! If you discover any such critters, simply find the shell with a small hole in it and throw both of them away. All of the other nuts should now be ready for cracking.

I find use of this type of nutcracker works best –

For all of us who can enjoy these tasty nuts, please view these recipes for ideas and inspirations of how to enjoy them.

Read how to roast and skin hazelnuts. Read about another method to roast hazelnuts.

Enjoy Your Harvest! –

View nutrition information regarding hazelnuts.  Unfortunately, some people have an allergic reaction when eating hazelnuts.


I recommend adding a cup of chopped hazelnuts to your favorite shortbread cookie recipe.

A few years ago, I enjoyed this bountiful harvest!

Hazelnut harvest (American on left, Beaked on right)

For those of you interested in perhaps growing your own hazelnut shrubs, look to these planting guides for more information –

Happy trails!


One Beautiful Canuck

Now is the time to go explore for a particularly showy native wildflower –

Canada Lily – orange bloom (may sometimes appear more reddish orange)

Canada Lily – yellow bloom

I have observed them at these local destinations:

  1. Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood
  2. Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve
  3. Ballston Creek Preserve
  4. Bauer Environmental Park
  5. Community Connector Trail
  6. Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve
  7. Hayes Nature Park
  8. Shenantaha Creek Park
  9. Summer Hill Natural Area
  10. Town Park
  11. Ushers Road State Forest
  12. Veterans Bike Path
  13. Veterans Memorial Park
  14. Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve
  15. Woodcock Preserve
  16. Zim Smith Trail

Sometimes you’ll find a whorl of blooms, resembling a candelabra.

In the past, I have seen these remarkable plants at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve achieve especially tall height.

Canada Lily nearly ten feet tall!

Other times, I’ve also observed specimens at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve that feature multiple blooms in a couple of tiers such that it resembles a chandelier.

Canada Lily

Happy trails!


While continuing my wildflower inventory today at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park, I noticed several Pale Jewelweed beginning to bloom.

Pale Jewelweed

I had noticed some of the first Spotted Jewelweed blooms nearly two weeks ago.

Spotted Jewelweed

The different dates for when these two species begin blooming and the different colors of their blooms aren’t the only differences between these two common wetland plants.  Another pretty reliable characteristic (but no always foolproof) is the number of teeth that appear along either side of a leaf’s margin.  Pale Jewelweed typically have more than ten (see photo immediately below) while Spotted Jewelweed typically has less than ten.  For the latter, take a closer look at the leaves in the photo immediately above.

Leaf of Pale Jewelweed – typically > 10 teeth per side of leaf

The stem of jewelweed is succulent, hollow, and usually reddish at the joints.  Indeed, the large lower joint (note one of these in the lower left portion of the photo above of Spotted Jewelweed) is a key characteristic to help identify these plants when you come across their stems in late fall or even winter.

Jewelweeds are of special value to our most abundant large bee species, the Common Eastern Bumblebee.  However, these plants also attract butterflies, but they are especially adapted to visitations from Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.

Native Americans used the mucilaginous sap medicinally, applied topically to relieve itching and pain from hives, poison ivy, stinging nettle, and other skin problems.  Therefore, crush a handful of either species and rub it over your skin the next time you brush up against any of the species of nettles.  Thankfully, jewelweeds and nettles routinely share the same habitat, so having quick access to relief to douse that flaming skin sensation of nettles is reassuring!

Since jewelweed plants are only available for a few months each year, I suggest that you grind some up in a blender and put it in an ice-cube tray, and have some ice-cubed jewelweed handy to rub on rashes or irritations at other times of the year.

If you wish to try to establish jewelweed in your garden, view this article.

Happy trails!


Red, White and Blue

Happy Birthday, America!

Here’s to the Red, White and Blue –

Cardinal Flower:  Watch for this native blooming beauty beginning the last week of July at any of these local destinations: (1) Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood, (2) Shenantaha Creek Park, (3) Summer Hill Natural Area, or (4) Town Park.

Foxglove Beardtongue: You can find this common native blooming beauty beginning mid-June at any of these local destinations: (1) Garnsey Park, (2) Historic Champlain Canalway Trail, (3) Mohawk Landing Nature Preserve, (4) Settlers Hill Natural Area, (5) Summer Hill Natural Area, (6) Town Park, (7) Ushers Road State Forest, (8) Veterans Bike Path, (9) Veterans Memorial Park, (10) Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve, (11) Woodcock Preserve, or (12) Zim Smith Trail.

Great Lobelia: You can find this native blooming beauty beginning in early August at any of these local destinations: (1) 100 Acre Wood, (2) Ashford Glen Preserve, (3) Bauer Environmental Park, (4) Historic Champlain Canalway Trail, (5) Summer Hill Natural Area, (6) Town Park, (7) Ushers Road State Forest, (8) Veterans Bike Path, (9) Veterans Memorial Park, or (10) Zim Smith Trail.

Wishing everyone a fun, safe and relaxing Fourth of July!

View a schedule of area fireworks displays.

Tidy in White

Today’s sunshine motivated me to undertake an overhaul of my wildflower field guide for the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve. As one of my first compilations, I know it contains some errors and is in need of updated scientific names. Further, the establishment of the Community Connector Trail (which runs through the preserve and for which I’ve already compiled its own wildflower guide) and an updated trail map of this preserve (which was prepared last year by Chris Nafis) are more substantive reasons to undertake this revision. So, I began my updated inventory along the 1825 Erie Canal Towpath Trail (shown in red on the aforementioned map).

While tallying the various species I observed today, I noted a definite theme.  Most of the blooms were white…and tidy.

Oxeye Daisy

White Clover

Prostrate Knotweed

Canada Anemone



Gray Dogwood


Happy trails!

Summertime is here!

Summer Solstice 2019 will occur tomorrow.

With the extended daylight that the summer solstice brings, it offers the best opportunity of each year to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Community Connector Trail

Observe nature at a local preserve. Listen to the calls and songs of birds in your backyard. Go fishing. Forage for some wild edibles. Take a tour of any of the area bike trails.

Great Blue Heron – Mohawk River at Mohawk Landing Nature Preserve

To fill those longer days (and a few nights – see below) with outdoor activities, consider these upcoming events:

National Pollinator Week: Flowers of the Solstice (June 21 @ 7pm)

Wetland Hike (June 22 @ 9am)

Nature Photography Walk at Thacher State Park (June 23 @ 10am)

Woodland Wildflowers – 100 Acre Wood (June 26 @ 5:30pm)

The Multiple Helderberg Escarpments at Thacher State Park (June 29 @ 9am)

Guided Walk: The Wild Turkey Trail (June 29 @ 10am)

Inde”pond”ence Day at Woodlawn Preserve (July 4 @ 11am)

Karner Blue Butterfly Walk (July 6 @ 11am)

Discover the Pine Bush: Focus on Invasive Species (July 7 @ 1pm)

Invasive Species ID – Fox Preserve (July 12 @ 9am)

Guided Butterfly Walk (July 13 @ 9:30am)

Karner Blue Butterfly Walk (July 13 @ 11am)

Woodland Wildflowers – Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve (July 16 @ 5:30pm)

Dragonfly and Damselfly Hike (July 21 @ 1pm)

Moth Exploration of the Albany Pine Bush (July 23 @ 8:30pm)

Woodland Wildflowers – 100 Acre Wood (July 24 @ 5:30pm)

Wildflower Stroll (July 27 @ 2pm)

Birdwatching at Peebles Island State Park (August 11 @ 8:30am)

Moonlight Paddle (August 16 @ 8pm)

Woodland Wildflowers – Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve (August 20 @ 5:30pm)

Woodland Wildflowers – 100 Acre Wood (August 28 @ 5:30pm)

Birdwatching at Huyck Preserve/Myosotis Lake (August 31 @ 8am)

Birdwatching at Albany Rural Cemetery (September 7 @ 7:30am)

Hawk Watching and Songbirds at Thacher State Park (September 14 @ 9:30am)

Moonlight Paddle (September 14 @ 7:30pm)

Happy trails!

Spring Wildflower Sampler

During my past couple of visits to the West Sky Natural Area while conducting my ongoing wildflower inventory, I observed these blooming beauties –

Common Blue-eyed Grass
Blunt-leaved Sandwort
Large Blue Flag
Common Cinquefoil
Yellow Wood Sorrel
Common Blackberry
Thyme-leaved Speedwell
Mouse-ear Chickweed
Field Hawkweed
Tall Buttercup
Common Speedwell
Wild Peppergrass
Indian Cucumber Root
Black Medick
White Clover
Philadelphia Fleabane
Bulbous Buttercup – NOTE: The only Buttercup with downward pointing sepals.
Bristly Dewberry
Slender Vetch
Multi-flora Rose

View the current status of my wildflower inventories.

Happy trails!