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The Weird Sex Lives Of Hazelnuts

When it comes to propagating the species, hazelnuts do it in the most peculiar way.

For starters, the pollination season starts in January. How many plants pollinate during winter? Not many.

With a 98-acre hazelnut orchard right next door to us, we at Rogue Farms have a front row seat of the strange reproductive habits of the hazelnut.

Catkins, the male flower of the hazelnut tree.

Catkins, the male flower of the hazelnut tree.

It starts with catkins, a long droopy flower that first appear on hazelnuts in the spring. Catkins are the male parts of the tree that produce and release pollen.

The pollen is spread by the wind to these tiny red flowers, the female parts of the hazelnut tree.

The small red flower, or floret, receives the pollen and will later grow into a nut.

The small red flower, or floret, receives the pollen and will later grow into a nut.

Pollen can be spread up to 50-feet, but rarely does it have to travel that far. Every hazelnut tree has both male and female flowers, so all the pollen has to do is reach the tree next to the one it came from. In case you’re wondering, hazelnut trees can’t pollinate themselves. The pollen must come from another tree in the orchard.

A tree with both catkins and flowers blooming at the same time.

A tree with both catkins and flowers blooming at the same time.

Let’s review. They pollinate in winter. They’re both male and female. So far there’s nothing all that strange about any of this. Our Wigrich Corn, for example, is another plant with both male and female parts on the same stalk.

What makes the hazelnut truly different from virtually every other plant is that when the pollen reaches a flower, nothing happens. The pollen, or sperm, goes dormant for months while the flower continues to develop. Sometime in late April or early May, the sperm reawakens and finally fertilizes the tree. A mere six weeks later and the nuts of the tree are fully grown.

Hazelnuts in husks. Oregon State University photo.

Hazelnuts in husks. Oregon State University photo.

At Rogue Farms what we really appreciate about hazelnuts is the nutty flavor they add to our Hazelnut Brown Nectar and Hazelnut Spice Rum. We also like being able to get all the hazelnuts we need from our friends and neighbors, Kirk Family Filberts. We can walk through their orchard, see the catkins and the flowers, knowing that the next crop of hazelnuts are being pollinated right before our very eyes.

Farming teaches us patience. It can take months or years before a seed in the ground becomes the beer, spirit, cider or soda in your glass. But the satisfaction we get from growing our own ingredients, or getting them from our neighbors, makes it worth the wait.

Rogue Farms of Independence, Oregon is open most days during winter. Drop in and enjoy a beer with us. Even in winter, when life on the farm seems to move slowly, something important is happening. Join us in the Grow Your Own Revolution.

Grow_The_Revolution

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Whiskey And Whisky For The Everyday Man and commented:
    Love these guys!

    January 20, 2016

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