After the warmest New Year’s Day ever, the hazels are in full swing for spring. The high temperatures ensure that the first catkins and flowers of the hazel tree can be seen. That is a month and a half earlier than we are used to.

    The hazel tree often stands out in winter because of the flowering catkins. It is the first plant species of the year of the wild flora in the Netherlands to start flowering. But just like last year, the hazelnuts are also very early this year. André Efftink from Landscape Management Drenthe has also seen them.

    “They really exploded in the last week,” he says. “That can’t hurt, but fertilization can take place too early and as a result they may set fewer nuts. Fortunately, we don’t have a large production of hazelnuts here, such as in Turkey, for example. Otherwise it would go completely to pieces. Last year if the flowering was so early, then the hazel hardly borne fruit anywhere.”

    The hazel is a monoecious plant species. That is to say: the male and female inflorescences are separate from each other on the same plant. The female flowers have the bright red: these are styles with stigmas. The ‘catkins’ of scales and stamens are the male ones.

    Efftink: “The catkins scatter the pollen around. It must then accidentally end up on those red dots to lead to fertilization. It is a wind bloomer: no insects are needed for fertilization, the bees and bumblebees are also hibernating .”

    Research shows that the hazel tree bloomed in mid-February fifty years ago, says biologist Arnold van Vliet op NatureToday. It can be partly explained by the planting of hazels from southern areas. But the higher temperatures probably also have an effect.
    To continue investigating this, Van Vliet calls on you to report it when you see a hazel tree blooming for the first time. You can do that through Naturecalendar.nl.

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