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What Is a Filbert Tree?

Portland, Oregon, is a land famous for its trees, with dozens of different species bringing their unique beauty to the area. Some of these trees, such as the shade-loving and colorful Pacific dogwood, are native to the region. Others, such as the Japanese maple, are non-native but have been found to thrive in Oregon’s tree-friendly environment.

One of the most popular trees in Oregon is the filbert tree, which you might know better by its other name: the hazelnut tree. In this article, we’ll tell you what makes this species of tree special and why you should consider planting one in your Portland yard.


How to Recognize a Filbert Tree

Filbert trees are neither particularly large nor especially small. As far as size goes, they occupy a middle ground in between tree and shrub. At their tallest, they grow to around 20 feet in height; not massive, but certainly respectable. They are deciduous trees with rounded, double-serrated leaves, producing yellow catkin flowers in the late winter months.

Of course, when people think of hazelnut trees, they think of the nuts themselves, and indeed, the filbert tree is one of the only nut-producing trees that can be grown easily in a yard. The nuts that they produce are brown and oval in shape, growing in clusters of up to five. The tree usually begins to produce nuts after about two or three years and continues to do so for the next 40 years. On the extreme end, filbert trees have been known to produce nuts for up to 100 years.

Uses for Filbert Nuts

The nuts of the hazelnut tree have been used by humans for thousands of years, even being considered sacred in some cultures. The ancient Greeks believed that the filbert nut could be used as cough medicine and even a cure for baldness. These days, it’s primarily used in desserts, as its earthy sweetness happens to complement the taste of chocolate extremely well. This is why so many chocolate treats also contain hazelnuts, although the nut can also be made into cookies or candy, or even simply be roasted and eaten in this way.

It’s worth doing a little research into recipes with this tree’s delicious fruit. After all, half the benefit of having a filbert tree on your property is being able to use its harvest to do a lot of baking.

Other Benefits of This Tree

The filbert tree can do a lot more than simply provide you with food, though. For example, the thickness of the branches means that it serves as an excellent hedge tree. Plant a few of these trees close together to give your home some privacy and absorb street noise and other ambient sounds.

Another major benefit of a filbert tree is that it’s extremely adaptable. It can survive in almost all soil conditions, provided it gets the proper nutrients. These nutrients can be provided in the form of mulch or simply come from decaying leaves and other organic matter. The tree is also quite cold-tolerant, although freezing conditions well below zero can damage its ability to produce nuts.

Common Threats

Like any other tree, the filbert tree is at risk from a number of pests and diseases. For humans trying to harvest the hazelnuts from their trees, squirrels are the most common (and annoying). They will leave half-eaten nuts strewn about your lawn unless you take measures to keep them at bay. Fortunately, there are plenty of methods for doing so that won’t damage your tree or harm the squirrels. Fences can be built around the trees to keep them out, or repellant spray can be applied to the tree bark. Ultrasonic technology can also scare squirrels away harmlessly.

Somewhat harder to deal with are bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can attack—and even kill—the filbert tree. Anthracnose fungus, for example, is a common disease in many trees of the Portland area and causes the leaves to develop large, black spots. As this fungus chokes off the tree’s access to nutrients, the tree will begin to fail to develop its characteristic fruit and may weaken considerably, putting the tree at risk during the cold winter months.

If your tree develops signs of illness, your best bet is to contact your local arborist at Mr. Tree. We can address viral, bacterial, or fungal attacks in a number of ways, including topical treatments and pruning.

Pruning a Filbert Tree

Periodically, you or your arborist may need to prune your filbert tree. When this is done in the first five years of the life of the tree, it is known as “training” and is important for establishing a strong, healthy framework for the tree as it grows larger. After this period, regular pruning can help the tree remain in good health, even working to stave off the infections that cause disease.

When your arborist prunes your tree, they will remove excessive branches, especially ones that have become damaged by inclement weather conditions. It also helps to allow more light into the tree canopy, which is important for the inner leaves and branches to thrive. Regular pruning will encourage the growth of flowers, as well as the nuts that you will come to look forward to harvesting each year.

Further Information

If you are interested in planting a filbert tree on your property, your first step should be to schedule a consultation with the arborists at Mr. Tree. Discuss the details of where you would like to have the tree planted. How much sun does the area get? What is the soil like? Is there good drainage? How much water is the spot you’re hoping to plant in expected to get? And so on.

Your arborist will be able to plant the filbert sapling for you, as well as return periodically to train the branches of the young tree and ensure it’s healthy and in good shape. As the tree grows larger, make sure it receives regular care and maintenance to ensure a bountiful harvest for years to come.