Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! From Tryon Creek’s First Flower of 2015

By Bruce Rottink, Volunteer Nature Guide and Retired Research Forester


On December 31, 2014, I saw Tryon Creek State Natural Area’s last flower of 2014, and it will undoubtedly be the first flower of 2015. Care to guess what it is? If you guessed Pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum), too bad! When it comes to early season flowering, trillium is a slacker compared to our champ! Actually the prize goes to a non-native species, European hazel (Corylus avellana). Widely grown in this area of Oregon for the hazelnuts (aka “filberts”) that you find in the grocery store, it’s no surprise that it sneaked into our forest.

The European hazel has separate male and female flowers. The hazel is a plant that relies on the wind to carry the pollen from the male to the female flower. Scientists call this type of plant “anemophilous”, a name derived from Greek meaning “wind loving.” Pictured directly below are the male catkins. The one of the left is immature and therefore completely closed, while the one of the right is starting to mature and open. As of this date, almost all of the catkins are unopened. When a catkin is completely “ripe” it will release pollen into the air. The male catkins have been visible all fall, and are approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches long.


Immature catkins of European Hazel


“starting to mature” catkins of European Hazel






(photos taken at Tryon Creek SNA on 12/31/2014)


Pictured below are the female flowers of the European hazel. I was only able to find 2 of these on the bush I examined. They are extremely tiny flowers, typically about 1/8 of an inch long. Were they not bright red, they would be very difficult to see. Below are the face-on and side view photos of a female hazel flower.


Side view of European hazel female flower


Face-on view of European hazel female flower

(Photos taken on December 31, 2014 at Tryon Creek SNA.)

And in case you think this is pretty inhospitable weather for most flowers, you’re right. The same day I found the flowers, I also found these ice crystals growing out of the ground on the trail at Tryon Creek SNA. They are about 1 to 1-1/4 inches tall.


Ice crystals growing out of the ground at Tryon Creek, December 31, 2014

I checked out one of our native beaked hazels (Corylus cornuta var. californica), and found that all of the male catkins were still tightly closed, and I couldn’t find any female flowers that had made their appearance yet.


Keep a sharp eye out for the next species that flowers at Tryon Creek SNA. (Hint: It’s still not going to be the trilliums!) Enjoy our forest, and all the surprises it has to offer.



Posted on January 11, 2015, in Plants & Wildlife, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I will go out to check the hazelnuts in our natural area to see their bloom status. I did note crocus breaking the soil surface in the neighbor’s yard on Friday, and a Cherry tree blossoming at the Washington County Court house the last week of December.

    All seems too soon… Strange to say because spring is my favorite season …

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