Corylus cornuta (Beaked Hazelnut)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Betulaceae (Birch)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist to dry; open woods, thickets, river banks, fence rows
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:12 to 20 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Slender, pale clusters (called catkins) up to 3 inches long of male pollen-bearing anthers hang from buds on 1-year-old branches. Female flowers are bud-like with a spray of red styles at the tip, on the same branch as male catkins, single in the axils or at the tip of the branch.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[scan of leaves] Leaves are simple and alternate, 2½ to 4½ inches long, 1¼ to 3 inches wide, oval-elliptic or widest above the middle, with a long or short taper to a sharply pointed tip and a rounded to somewhat heart-shaped base. Edges are coarsely double-toothed and may have a few very shallow lobes. The upper surface is dark green and hairless to sparsely hairy, the lower is paler than the upper surface and hairy along major veins. Leaf stalks are ¼ to ¾ inch long and variously hairy to hairless and lack glandular hairs.

[photo of young twig] New twigs are greenish to yellowish tan to light brown and hairless or variously covered in minute hairs and becoming smooth the second year.

[photo of older trunk] Older bark is light to dark brown with scattered white lenticels (pores), initially smooth but eventually developing a criss-cross pattern. Stems are multiple from the base, up to ¾ inch diameter at breast height (dbh), erect with ascending branches, spreading by rhizomes and may form small colonies or dense thickets.

Fruit: Fruit type: nut

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round nut with a hard shell, 1/3 to ½ inch in diameter, enveloped in a stiff, green husk with up to 6 nuts in a cluster. The husk has a long tubular beak at least twice as long as the nut, is ruffled at the tip, and covered in bristly hairs.


It strongly resembles the related American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), which has glandular hairs on twigs, leaf stalks and husks, and the husks lack the long beak. The two species' ranges overlap and may be found growing side by side, but Beaked Hazelnut is more common in moister sites and American Hazelnut in drier sites. There are 2 recognized subspecies of C. cornuta: subsp. cornuta, present in most of the species' range and described above, and subsp. californica, which is limited to the Pacific coastal region, has husks with beaks less than twice as long as the nut and usually has some glandular hairs.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at the I-35 rest stop in Carlton County, and in Pine County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Regina S - Sandstone
on: 2017-07-27 18:39:29

Can you eat beaked hazel nuts, and how to you ripen them for eating? How do you know when to pick them?

Posted by: Eddie - Superior National Forest
on: 2017-08-12 22:50:44

Beaked hazelnuts. Ripe when husk turns brown. Edible. I myself would toast them first.

Posted by: luciearl - Fairview Twp
on: 2018-08-05 12:26:39

I discovered these blooming in June. Thought it was just one location, but have since found them in several areas on my trail.

Posted by: cole - Crow Wing county
on: 2021-07-06 14:48:55

Found a few along a walking path underneath dense forest cover. I didnt know what they were but the beaked fruits were unmistakable and I was easily able to identify it.

Posted by: Bob - Washington County
on: 2022-05-22 11:42:57

Purchased a couple beaked hazelnuts from Out Back natives nursery near Hastings. Will plant on a wetland edge under a shaded wooded spot as I beat back the buckthorn. Good to hear they thrive in moist soils and shade.

Posted by: James W Luedtke - Itasca State Park
on: 2023-07-23 15:52:38

Beaked and American hazelnuts nearly side by side on the trail to the big red pine (formerly state champ) on Wilderness Drive

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