Hazel Kangaroo Paw Peony Pomegranate
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Hazel: watercolour painting by Betty Johnson, 1996 [1 of 4]

Hazel leaf, fruit, nut
Corylus avellana
English hedgerow plant. Male and female flowers grow on the same tree - the male are called catkins. Female flowers are little egg-shaped buds with very short stalks.
Hazel is the sacred plant of the Celtic sea god Manaman. The Celts also believed that hazelnuts held concentrated wisdom. One old tale tells of Hazel tress growing round Connla's Well, the well of wisdom and believed to be the source of the River Shannon, and dropping hazelnuts into the water. These nuts were eaten by salmon, who were revered by the Druids, who absorbed their wisdom. The number of spots on a salmon indicated the number of nuts it had eaten. Catching a salmon and eating it would endow the eater with wisdom. In an Irish version of this tale, one salmon only ate all the nuts. A Druid master told his pupil to catch and cook the fish but not to eat it. The hot fat from the fish while cooking splattered the pupil's thumb, which he licked to cool it - thereby imbibing the fish's wisdom. He was known as Fionn Mac Cumhail and became one of the most heroic leaders in Irish mythology. The phrase "in a nutshell" probably derives from this legend because all wisdom is within the nut. In Norse mythology Hazel was known as the Tree of Knowledge and was sacred to the god Thor.