You may have noticed that Witch Hazel is used as a base for our Skin Toners, and for our little roll on No Itch. So you may wonder, “What is Witch Hazel, and how does it work?”

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms late in the fall, sometimes as late as November. At this same time the fruits of the witch hazel mature. Thus the genera name Hamamelis, which means “flower and fruit together.”

The species familiar to the eastern United States bears yellow flowers and offers its pollen to the late bumble bees that are brave enough to hang out in the late fall. It is a shrub about 10 -25 feet tall. Deer browse this bush, so in areas with heavy deer populations, the plant struggles to reach its full potential. Planted close to the house, it will be safer and will offer a late flower to your garden.

The “Witch” in its name is not a halloween reference, but instead, is derived from the old English “wice” or the middle English “wiche” that means bendable. At the same time as the flowers bloom, the glossy black fruit capsules fling their seeds explosively into the air, guaranteeing distribution well beyond the close perimeter of the mother plant.

The Witch Hazel we use on our skin is made by distilling the leaves, bark and stems of the witch hazel plant. It may contain some natural alcohols such as carvacrol and eugenol, and contains 13-15% natural ethanol. It was used by early native American peoples, who suggested its use to early settlers in North America to soothe
irritated skin.

We add Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils in our little No Itch to help stop itching and irritation or mild skin irritations and mosquito bites. It is helpful as a roll on to stop the itching that prevents sleep and is annoying in the summertime. My granddaughter used to sleep with one under her pillow when she was little. Put it in your camping bag as you head out to a picnic or the wilderness.

As a skin toner it gives a fresh clean feel to the skin and prepares the skin for a moisturizer or other application.

It is a friendly bush and should be used more often in our gardens. As a late source of pollen it is a great addition to help our local pollinators.

Thanks to Wikipedia for their information and to Prairie Moon for sources on locale and planting.