Botanist's Glossary

Hamamelis - Hamamelis virginiana

  • Description
    • Hamamelis, also known as witch hazel (Hamamelidaceae family), is a small tree that grows in damp soil in the east of North America. It has coarsely toothed leaves and yellow flowers with 4 narrow petals. The fruit is a two-part capsule that bears some similarity to a hazelnut. Hamamelis is cultivated in France and its leaves are collected for herbal remedies.
  • Traditions
    • The first European settlers called this bush by the name of "witch hazel" as it reminded them of their hazel tree. The Indians of the south-eastern United States used it in therapeutic rituals, as a sedative to relieve rheumatism, and to treat external inflammations and painful tumors. Since the middle of the 20th century, hamamelis has been widely used to improve blood circulation.
  • Properties
    • Obtained by steam distillation of the leaves, hamamelis extract, rich in tannins, has astringent and vasoconstricting properties. It tightens skin pores and refines the skin's texture.