Harry Lauder's Walking Stick
Corylus avellana 'Contorta'
This tree in the east triangle is a green mound of foliage in the summer, but when its leaves drop in autumn it stands out for its contorted limbs. See Wikipedia entry here.
This shrubby plant is a member of the common Hazel family, and is a species native to Europe and western Asia, from the British Isles to Iberia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, north to central Scandinavia and south to the central Ural Mountains, the Caucasus, and northwestern Iran.
Contorted hazelnut or filbert in east triangle surrounding pink granite plaque commemorating Baldwin Park
Nuts of the Corylus genus are called hazelnuts, filberts, or cobnuts. Some people will claim that Corylus avellana yields hazelnuts and Corylus maxima yields filberts, but depending on region the nut terms may be used interchangeably. The Contorta variety like ours do not produce nuts.
The genus name comes from the Greek word "korylos" meaning helmet, which the husk on the nut resembles.
The "filbert" name may be derived from the time of peak harvest in late August. August 20 is the feast day of St. Philbert, a French saint.
25% of the world's hazelnuts are used to make Nutella.
Our Corylus avellana carries the variety appellation "contorta" due to its twisted branches best seen in winter. This variety is naturally occurring.
It is monoecious, having separate male and female flowers on the same shrub. The males are hanging catkins in early spring, and the females are tiny and right above the male flowers.
Sir Henry Lauder (1870-1950)
Lauder was a Scottish singer and comedian known for his crooked walking stick. By 1911 he was the highest paid performer in the world, and was knighted in 1919 for his help in raising money for the British effort in World War I. The contorted filbert was given its common name in his honor.
Flowers on the first day of Spring.
The yellow male flowers align by the hundreds along the central spine of the long catkin.
The tiny red female flowers protrude from nearby buds.
Botany 101 Bonus
The contorted hazelnut has imperfect flowers, both male and female, on the same tree. These trees are monoecious (meaning "one house"). Dioecious plants also have imperfect flowers, but the male and female flowers are each on separate plants, one all male and one all female, as do the two red maples in the Park. The male flowers of the hazelnut produce tiny pollen grains that are carried by the wind to the female flowers to enact fertilization. The evolutionary advantage of sex is that mixing the genes from two distinct organisms generates more variation, which protects a species over the generations from parasites. Most plants, therefore, have mechanisms that prevent self-fertilization, and in many plants a second nearby plant of the same species is necessary for fertilization.