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The weird and wonderful Contorted Filbert Tree (a.k.a. Contorted Hazelnut or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick) is a tree with a great sense of humor. With curlicue branches that are in no hurry to get from Point A to Point B, swerving and zigzagging en route, this quirky small specimen tree will have you and your guests laughing out loud. It’s the ultimate winter interest plant—its kinky branches all the more captivating when outlined in ice or snow. Contorted Filbert also entertains in late winter with charming four-inch-long dangling mustard-yellow catkins that dance in the wind, announcing to the world that spring is around the corner.
- Hardiness Zone: 4-8
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The Contorted Filbert is a naturally occurring mutant form of European Filbert, a species often planted for filbert, a.k.a. hazelnut, production. (Your Contorted Filbert Tree may produce some edible hazelnuts, but probably only a few.) The kinky contorted version was discovered back in 1863, growing wild in a hedgerow in England. This form is commonly called “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick,” in reference to a now obscure but once very famous Scottish singer and comedian who carried a crooked walking stick. Contorted Filbert can be grown as a shrub, but we prefer it raised up off the ground (on a “standard”) and trained like a little tree, as we have done here.
Perfect for a children’s garden—or simply the young at heart—Contorted Filbert’s squiggly branches will bring laughter and cheer to the dreariest of winter days. Cut branches are wonderful to bring inside, too, for adding to arrangements or for using in other craft projects.
How to Grow
Contorted Filbert is an adaptable, easy to please tree that flourishes in full sun or light shade in just about any type of soil. Pests and diseases are rarely an issue. You might worry that there’s something wrong with the leaves when you see how crinkled they are, but that’s only because the foliage is contorted as well, and it’s no cause for alarm. The one task you’ll want to stay on top of is to patrol for “suckers”—new growth that sprouts from below the graft union—and prune those shoots out. They aren’t difficult to spot, as the perfectly straight twigs contrast noticeably with the curly branches.
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Size A Trees:
4-5' tall tree form. Grafted on a 42" stem the head and branches are 30-36' wide. Grown in our #8 or #10 tree container. A real pleaser!
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