Distribution: Widespread in North America from British Columbia to Newfoundland, south to California, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and Georgia. In WA on both sides of the Cascades, and in the eastern portion of the state.
Habitat: Forest edge and openings, thickets, and rocky slopes at low to middle elevations.
Flowers: January - March
Conservation Status: Not of concern
Multi-stemmed shrub 1-4 meters tall with alternate leaves. First-year twigs typically hairy to glandular, becoming glabrous (smooth) in second year.
5-10 mm. long petioles with 4-10 mm. long blades; base of blade flat or somewhat heart-shaped; leaf margins doubly serrate; tip of blades coming to a point gradually or abruptly.
All plants have separate male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers. Male flowers are arranged sprirally along a pendulous (dangling) catkin; female flowers enclosed in bracts at the tip of the twigs with only the red stigmas visible.
1.5 cm. long, hard-shelled nut enclosed within a prickly-haired tube formed by the involucre (cluster of bracts) originating at the nut base.
The nuts are often harvested shortly after ripening by squirrels and other cache-forming animals.