I went out to dump the furnace ash last week and saw these ragged looking flowers on a bush at the top of the bank. They are the remains of witchhazel flowers shrivelling up. Witchhazel is a real contrarian. It blooms in October and I missed the full bloom (shown at right). My honeybees are all tucked in for the winter at that time, so I wondered what pollinated a flower in late October and early November. Apparently witch hazel is pollinated by a moth. Hope the moth had a fur coat this October ‘cos it was frostier than usual. Wichhazel is part of folk medicine in both Europe and North America and is the basis for soothing lotions and ointments. Apparently you can chop up and crush stems and boil them to make a potion. HAHAHA (evil laugh). Wordy factoid: I’d assumed that the late blooming habit and its healing properties were the source of “witch” in its name. Wrong! “witch” comes from Middle English “wiche”, which comes from Old English “wice” which means bendy or flexible. So much for the occult.

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