Pollination of hazel is by wind, and only takes place between different trees (a tree cannot pollinate itself). The catkins appear in February, but the leaves do not grow until April; they turn yellow before falling in October (3). The nuts are an important source of food for many animals, including red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), woodpeckers, dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) and wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). Some nuts that are hoarded may germinate, and so these animals aid in the dispersal of the hazel (3).
Hazel lives for 50 to 70 years, but the ancient technique of coppicing can dramatically extend the life-span (3). This species has been employed by humans for a variety of uses during the past 6,000 years (5). Hazel poles, which result from coppicing, can be split lengthways, and can be twisted without breaking. They were used during the Neolithic to make wattle (hazel strips woven into a lattice), for the construction of wattle and daub houses. Wattle fencing has been used in more recent times as sound screens beside motorways (5). Hazel wood was (and still is) used to make staffs, crooks, walking sticks, and baskets. It is also the wood of choice for divining rods. Hazel leaves were used to feed cattle, and hazelnuts were an essential part of the diet of prehistoric humans. In Celtic mythology, hazel nuts were believed to represent concentrated wisdom (5).