Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FOOD FOREST MEDICINE Monograph #5: Hazelnut

Common Name:  


Latin Name:  Corylus americana

Brief Description: 
Corylus americana is a deciduous Tree growing to 3 m (9ft 10in).
It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant, and are pollinated by wind. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate strong winds but not maritime exposure.
The common name reflects its being native to North America and “hazel” is from the Old English name for filbert.
According to Mark Shepard, hazelnuts represent an excellent candidate for a staple food crop in permaculture design systems.  Not only is it a good source of oil, protein and biofuel, the nut shells burn at 2 x the BTU of many types of fuel wood!  Great for keeping things warm in the winter!
Parts Used/ Edible Uses:  
The nuts are edible and ripen in late fall.  Other edible parts are the oil and seeds. Seed - raw or cooked in soups, bread, biscuits, sweets etc. The nuts have a thick shell with a small sweet kernel, they make an excellent dessert. Although smaller than the seeds of cultivated species, the seed is of the same general quality. Nuts at the 'milk' stage (before they are fully ripe) are softer and sweeter. The seed is rich in oil. The seed ripens in mid to late autumn and will probably need to be protected from squirrels. When kept in a cool place, and not shelled, the seed should store for at least 12 months. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.  When the oil is pressed from the seed, the remaining meal is a 30% protein concentrate food. 

Medicinal Uses: 
A tea made from the bark is astringent. It was used in the treatment of hives and fevers. A poultice made from the bark is used to close cuts and wounds, old sores etc.
50-75% oil by weight, mostly mono and polyunsaturated fats.  Very high in Vitamin E, which shows some evidence in treating liver disease, macular degeneration, prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease

Other Uses: 
The plant makes a good screening hedge.
Allergy to tree nuts or their products. Use caution in patients with known allergy to peanuts.
Shepard, Mark.  Restoration Agriculture.  Acres USA, pp 87-92. Austin, TX, 2013.

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