Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hazelnut Catkins

Hazelnut Catkins-- sounds like one of T.S. Eliot's Practical Cats.

Hazelnut Catkins was a selfless cat;
She gave all the cheese to three mice and a rat.
When they were done, she gave them her bed.
Oh, what a selfless life Hazelnut led!

You get the idea.

Anyway, hazelnut catkins are actually the long, caterpillar-like things that hang down from hazelnut tree. It actually carries the pollen, while the blossoms and leaves are further back on the branch.

I stumbled across quite the heated debate when trying to decide whether to call this "hazelnut" or "filbert"-- I grew up calling it the first; my husband, the second. According to my studiously extensive internet research for the last five minutes, it's still up in the air whether they are in fact interchangeable terms. Some say they're the same thing, and the name was more recently changed from filbert to hazelnut for marketing reasons. Others say that "filbert" is derived from the french word for it, and "hazelnut" is the english term. Others say that filbert is a sub-species of the hazelnut, and only refers to the elongated, not round, shape. This article from The Nut Factory seems to have the best information to my amateur eye, although in the same article it says both that filberts and hazelnuts are THE SAME NUT, and also that the filbert is a COUSIN TO the hazelnut. Oh, I also read that filbert is a European term, and hazelnut is an American term.

I think we can choose whatever we want at this point.

More hazelnut fun facts:

The Pacific Northwest is the only place on earth where hazelnuts are grown commercially.

The Romans burned hazelnut branches at weddings as tokens of fertility.

Forked hazelnut branches are historically the best divining rods for finding water, and Moses' rod was supposedly made of hazelnut wood when he tapped the rocks for water.

Magicians' wands are traditionally made of hazelnut wood.

The ancient Chinese called the hazelnut one of the "five sacred nourishments bestowed on mankind by the gods."

Hazelnut Catkins is a Practical Cat.


  1. We call them chatons, or kitten, in french

  2. Very intersting. I never knew how Hazelnuts grew. I just know they taste good.I like the flower things hanging down.
    ♥♥ Hugs ♥♥

  3. This was all so interesting. What an unusual tree regardless of what we call the nut. I personally can see where hazelnut was more marketable. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  4. I love it when you wax poetic ( :

  5. All I know about hazelnuts (or filberts) is that they're very tasty! ;)

    Fascinating, educational and funny post!

  6. I have never seen this! It looks lovely!

  7. Fascinating! Hazelnut was so popular in former Yugoslavia for cakes, right along with walnuts. I remember picking hazelnuts off a tree when I was young.

  8. Interesting and cute (all at once) post, Liz. We had Walnuts and Hazelnuts when we lived in Bothell. In Oregon they have huge Hazelnut farm or Orchards and they call them Filberts. To each his own. I love Ms. atkin, she was a Practical Catkin. LOL MB