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Corylus avellana 'Contorta' Contorted European Filbert, Henry Lauder's Walking Stick

Edward F. Gilman


A curious shrub with twisted stems and branches, walking stick slowly develops into a nice, rounded form (Figure 1). Branches grow upright when the plant is young, but eventually droop toward the ground. Flowers emerge and hang from bare stems before the foliage appears in the spring. Fruit is persistent and enjoyed by birds, rodents, and humans.

Figure 1. Contorted European filbert.
Figure 1.  Contorted European filbert.


General Information

Scientific name: Corylus avellana 'Contorta'
Pronunciation: KOR-rill-us av-vell-LAY-nuh
Common name(s): Contorted European filbert, Henry
Lauder's walking stick
Family: Betulaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 4B through 8 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: border; container or above-ground planter; accent; cut foliage/twigs
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.



Height: 5 to 10 feet
Spread: 8 to 12 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: orbiculate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: brown
Flower characteristic: spring flowering


Fruit shape: elongated
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristic: suited for human consumption

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: sprouts from roots or lower trunk
Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Most people plant walking stick in a prominent location in the landscape so its unusual habit can be displayed. Place it in a mulched bed or in a mass of low ground cover so adjacent plants will not interfere with it. It can be used as the accent in any garden and is often placed near water, near a deck or patio so passers-by can enjoy it up close.

Pests and Diseases

A foliage and twig blight has been reported.

Publication #FPS147

Date: 5/21/2015

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS147, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman