‘Early Bright’ Witch Hazel

Common name: ‘Early Bright’ Chinese witch hazel
Botanical name: Hamamelis mollis ‘Early Bright’

Virtues: Very early bloom (as early as January in Pennsylvania); highly fragrant flowers.

Foliage: Oval, medium green leaves that turn yellow in fall.

Flowers: Golden yellow firecracker-like blooms. Strong sweet fragrance. Appearing in winter on bare branches.

Habit: Deciduous shrub to 12 feet tall and wide.

Season: Late winter, for bloom.

Origin: Introduced by the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in 1988. Steve Wheaton, then Director of Grounds, noticed a Chinese witch hazel that consistently bloomed two weeks earlier than its neighbors. Wheaton worked with Andrew Bunting, now Scott Arboretum’s Curator, to select, name and release ‘Early Bright’.

Cultivation: Grow in moist, well-drained, acidic or neutral soil. Full sun to part shade. USDA Zones 5–9.

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7 thoughts on “‘Early Bright’ Witch Hazel

  1. My at least 50 year old witch hazel was split down the middle and felll ‘apart’ by the huge amount of snow this winter. It was blooming! anything I can do to rejuvenate it? WE had to cut both parts of the trunk at the ground level.

  2. sounds like a great witch-hazel! Agree that many hammemalis
    hold leaf: our native H. virg. is lovely, but holds leaf in fall whilst in bloom, as does the H. vern. which is so bad, that when the brown bloom emerges in spring, one does not notice the bronzish colored blooms. A big zero in my book!

  3. Does ‘Early Bright’ drop its leaves in the Fall or hold on to them? I prefer varieties that drop their leaves so the spring flowers are visible.

      • This is very important info for anyone looking for an ornamental tree or shrub. The witch hazels that keep their old leaves over the winter until the new blooms appear don’t have nearly the impact of those that bloom on bare branches. And I –never– see that bit of info in a plant description, including the 2 related posts linked above. I’d be really mad to discover this about a plant I’d bought and planted the previous season.

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