The Hazelnut plant can be either a medium-sized shrub or a small tree, depending on whether it is regularly pruned. In the fall, the tree develops small, edible nuts that are often used for cooking. The tree is a medium to fast grower, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, and can be found growing in the wild as well as in home landscapes. Identifying a Hazelnut tree can be done any time of year by looking for several identifying characteristics.
Look in areas of full, direct sunlight since the Hazelnut does not survive in shady locations. Hazelnut trees grow in any soil type and can be found in all areas of the U.S except for tropical and subtropical locations.
Look for medium-sized trees that are approximately 15 to 18 feet tall and have a round shape at the top.
Move close to the tree trunk and fee the bark to determine if it is smooth to the touch and is a dark brown colour with a slight grey tint.
Examine the leaves of the tree to see if they are dark green on top and a lighter green on the bottom. In addition, the bottom of the leaves have a fuzzy texture to theml. The leaves will be between 2 inches to 5 inches long and have a serrated edge.
Look for the distinctive male Hazelnut flowers, called catkins, which look like 2-inch to 3-inch long yellow or brown growths at the end of the tree branches. The male flowers grow in clusters of two to three and typically form in the winter months.
Examine the tree and look for small, brown nuts that resemble a chestnut. These nuts ripen between September and October and grow in clusters of two to six nuts. The outside of the hull is green in summer and brown in the fall and has a slight fuzzy feel. Break open the hull to reveal the 1/2-inch-diameter smooth, hard hazelnut.
Watch for the female flowers in the spring, which are simply small brown buds with a series of red hairlike projections extending from them.