The Q&A Archives: Filberts on Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

Question: I have a Corylus avellana 'contorta' that is about 9 years old. I just noticed that it has 3 small whitish/greenish growths that I think are little filberts. Are they? Will they be edible? Can I actually get a crop some day? How long do they take to ripen? And why only 3 (all on the same branch) on what is now a good sized shrub? You can tell I'm all excited--I'm hoping this is a nice garden success story!

Answer: What fun!

While Corylus avellana is one of the species grown for edible nut production, finding nuts on "Contorta" is extremely rare. (You may be able to harvest them if you can beat the squirrels this fall!)

Here is what I suspect has happened. It is possible that your ornamental plant was grafted to a non-ornamental root stock. If that root stock has managed to send up a sucker or branch, it could fruit. This would explain why only one branch has nuts on it. Take a very close look at your shrub and see if you can tell if this is what happened.

In the meantime, enjoy your crop!

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