Hamamelis virginiana. N.O. Hamamelidaceae.
Synonym ► Spotted Alder and Snapping Hazel.
Habitat ► This shrub, like the Alders and the Hazel, grows in bunches as high as eight or ten feet, and is found on high lands and the stony banks of streams.
Features ► The branches are flexuous and knotty, the bark smooth and grey with brown spots. The leaves are four to five inches long and about two inches broad, obovate; feather-veined, irregularly notched at the edges, smooth above and downy underneath. Yellow flowers appear in autumn, when the leaves are falling. Taste is astringent, and smell slight and agreeable.
Part used ► Bark and leaves. Action ► Astringent and tonic.
A decoction of the bark, which is more astringent than the leaves, checks external and internal hemorrhages, and this astringency, when in combination with the more specific principles of Pilewort, makes one of the most effective pile medicines known. The compound can be obtained in the form of both ointment and suppositories for external application. For varicose veins an extract of the fresh leaves and young twigs of Witch Hazel is applied on a lint bandage kept constantly moist.
Both decoctions of the bark and infusions of the leaves are made in the proportion of 1 ounce to 1 pint boiling water (after simmering for ten minutes in the case of the bark decoction) and taken in wineglassful doses.