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.