Here is a distinctive small tree, or large shrub, that produces stunning purple foliage that fades to green in summer. It is the Purple-leaf hazel, or Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’. This plant has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit. The RHS Award of Garden Merit is so difficult to come by that any plant so designated deserves a close look, and Purple-leaf hazel is just such a plant. This form of Hazel has beautiful, scalloped, heavily-textured leaves. And the opulent deep purple color rivals any other shrub of this shade. The male catkins, suspended from the bare branches before spring foliage develops, are reddish-purple with yellow highlights, and are a lovely feature in themselves. But Purple-leaf hazel not only makes an outstanding ornamental, but also a first rate hedge, and, unusually for an ornamental, edible nuts (hazelnuts or filberts) are produced in good quantities.

Purple-leaf hazel is very easy to grow and tolerant of a wide range of conditions. Plant in free-draining soil in full sun or partial shade. To maximize nut production, grow as a bush. As a tree it can reach 20 feet with a similar spread but as a bush or hedge it can easily be maintained at 5 to 12 feet. It grows well throughout most of the US, except for the coastal South. It will grow in the warmer parts of Canada and does quite well in the UK and New Zealand and temperate Australia.

Purple-leaf hazel


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