March 20
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Plant Genus of the family Hamamelidaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Hamamelis This is a small genus of 5 or 6 species of deciduous winter-flowering shrubs or small trees in the family Hamamelidaceae (witch hazel), found in eastern North America and eastern Asia. They are characterized by their spider-like, yellow or reddish, perfumed flowers that are composed of crinkled strap-shaped petals. These appear in crowded clusters on the bare branches in mid-winter to early spring, withstanding the most severe weather without injury. The foliage often provides attractive autumn color. The fruit is a horned capsule that contains 2 shiny black seeds. CULTIVATION: Witch hazels, in their natural habitat, grow mainly in the shade of light woodland, and so prefer some shade from the midday sun; they also like a cool moist climate. Long basal shoots at flowering time are often cut for indoor decoration and this can be beneficial to the plant as it clears the way for new shoots. The best flowers are borne on strong, young, 1 to 3-year-old shoots that have not been shortened. Seeds can be collected before they are discharged and sown at once, but germination may take a year or more. Layers can be put down in winter and lifted the following winter.
Liquidambar This genus comprises 4 species of tall deciduous trees found in North America, China and Turkey. They have an attractive conical form and palmately lobed leaves similar to those of maples but arranged spirally on the twig instead of in opposite pairs. In autumn the foliage changes color dramatically to many shades of orange, red and purple. The spring flowers are greenish and inconspicuous in small spherical heads, but the brown fruiting heads that follow are spiky and rather decorative. Liquidamber styraciflua has a number of cultivars selected for autumn color. CULTIVATION: These are large trees requiring plenty of room to develop and their site should be chosen carefully as they dislike transplanting. The spiky fruits, when they fall, may be a minor nuisance on lawns and paths. They require a sunny situation in a deep rich soil with plenty of moisture. Propagate from seed sown in autumn, softwood cuttings taken in summer or by layering.

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