First Blooms of the Season!

Following our string of 70-degree sunny days, many plants starting exhibiting spring-like behavior.  The forecasted deep freeze for the next two nights will likely dramatically slow everything back to an early-March pace.  We’ll see.

Nevertheless, those warm days (and a few nights as well!) contributed to the following blooms observed this morning along the Stillwater Multi-Use Trail:

Beaked Hazelnut - female flower

Beaked Hazelnut – female flower

American Hazelnut - male (left) and female (right) flowers

American Hazelnut – male (left) and female (right) flowers

Think spring!  Happy trails!

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Time to harvest the hazelnuts!

The nuts of both species of hazelnuts typically are ready for picking locally in late August or early September.

Your targets will look like these:

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Each is ripe when the shell has turned to a brown color, which occurs before the outer husk turns brown.  If you wait to pick them when the husk has turned brown, you will likely not find any – resident critters (mostly chipmunks and red squirrels) will have harvested them before you!  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 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.Sticky hairs on husk of hazelnut

Photo Credit: http://arcadianabe.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-midwest-wild-harvest-festival.html

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 rinse the nuts (still in shell) with water.  Then, 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.

I find use of this type of nutcracker works best –Nutcracker

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

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

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

Happy trails!

 

Hazelnuts now blooming

Now that Skunk Cabbage is blooming, I was inspired to search for another early blooming species due to the continuation of recent sunny and warm days.  I decided to stroll along a couple of the towpath trails at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.

And I was rewarded with these –

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

As you enjoy these colorful tiny blooms today, think about what is to come.  The nuts of both species of hazelnuts typically are ready for picking locally in late August or early September.

Your targets will look like these:

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

 

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Each is ripe when the shell has turned to a brown color, which occurs before the outer husk turns brown.  If you wait to pick them when the husk has turned brown, you will likely not find any – resident critters (mostly chipmunks and red squirrels) will have harvested them before you!  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 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.

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 rinse the nuts (still in shell) with water.  Then, 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.

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

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

While walking along the trails, I heard a couple of spring peepers in the distance and one of the small back bays contained numerous singing wood frogs.

Happy trails!

Early spring flowers now blooming

Today afforded an opportunity to explore a couple of local trails so that I could see whatever might be in bloom and also what plants are beginning to emerge after our lengthy winter.  The sunshine alone was reason enough to head to the woods for a walk.

First, I stopped at 100 Acre Wood in the Town of Malta.  Along the entrance trail adjoining Stonebreak Road Extension, I noticed that the hazelnuts (both American and Beaked) are now in full bloom.

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Overhead, the red maples were also in bloom, although now past prime since many blooms are now falling to the ground.

Adjoining the boardwalk through the stream valley, I saw several Leatherwood shrubs also in full bloom plus many Skunk Cabbage still in bloom.

Leatherwood

Leatherwood

And, while walking along the western end of the blue trail, I saw several Round-lobed Hepaticas in bloom, both purple and white.

Round-lobed Hepatica

Round-lobed Hepatica

In addition, I saw a couple of other species in bud stage:  Trout Lily and Toothwort.

Next, I hiked along the trail through the Balsam Way Natural Area in the Town of Clifton Park.  There, I saw several Coltsfoot, many Skunk Cabbage, several hazelnuts, many Red Maple and a single Northern White Violet in bloom.

As sunshine returns and add a few warmer nights, many species will soon begin to emerge in a flourish and those already up will begin to bloom.  Things will likely change fairly dramatically over the next two weeks.  Pick a trail or two and walk along them over the next few weeks to observe the changes.

Happy trails!

Hazelnut harvest is underway!

I typically 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.

There are two species of hazelnuts, both native, that grow in the wild in our area. American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), which appears similar to the filberts you will find in grocery stores, and Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta). Each is delicious and both ripen at that same time – now. The husk surrounding the individual or, more often, cluster of nuts is the easiest way to distinguish between the two species.

This is the nut of American Hazelnut.

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

Beaked Hazelnut

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

Both hazelnuts are found throughout our area, typically in woodland borders or thickets. Sites receiving more sunlight are more likely to produce more nuts.

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

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

A few years ago, I enjoyed this bountiful harvest!

Hazelnut harvest (American on left, Beaked on right)

Hazelnut harvest (American on left, Beaked on right)

Recipes:
for Hazelnut Liqueur
for Hazelnut Cookies
for Torta Gianduia
for Hazelnut Butter
for another Hazelnut Butter
using Hazelnut Oil
Healthy Hazelnut Recipes

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

Happy trails!