Friday, February 08, 2008

Les Noisetiers

We're having nice sunny days from now through Sunday, according to the weather forecasters. And the temperatures are supposed to get up to around 12ºC. The mornings still hover just above freezing.

A sunny Friday morning in the garden.

The longer we go without rain the drier it will get outside. This water needs to drain, dry, evaporate, and otherwise go away so we can be out there without getting covered in mud. And, I want to do some pruning in the yard.

Four hazelnuts cleaned of suckers.

The main task right now is pruning the suckers (drageons) out from under the hazelnut trees (les noisetiers). I did four out of our twelve a couple of weeks ago. Eight more to go. Then we have to find some treatment for them to keep the hazelnut weevils (balanin des noisettes - curculio nucum) from climbing up in the spring to eat the leaves and lay their eggs.

Suckers poking up around the base of a hazelnut tree.

The weevils emerge from the ground in May and climb up the trunks at the precise moment that the nut is forming. They bore into the immature nut and lay an egg. When it hatches, the larva devours the nut as it grows safely inside the shell. What you're left with is a shell with a neat little hole and a rotten nut.

The hazelnut trees are flowering now.

There is supposedly some kind of gluey paper that you can put around the bases of the trees to trap the weevils. A good, environmentally friendly way to go, if the dog doesn't decide to lick the glue. Otherwise, there are sprays, I think, but they may only be available to commercial growers. We'll go to a garden center to inquire before too long.

For now, I've got to get the pruning done. Last fall I was able to prune a lot of the dead wood out of the trees.

I also removed two of the trees that had died (and we burned them in the fireplace during the fall and winter).

I'm hoping that this work will pay off by letting more light and air into the trees so more nuts can form.

The hazlenut flowers, called catkins (chatons), are appearing even now. At left is a close-up of the catkins on one of our trees.


  1. interesting....i love hazelnuts but have never seen the trees....catkins....r they related to the pussy willow? do y'all get any nuts to use?

  2. Good luck with your hazelnut project! I enjoyed learning about those weevils who have learned just how to get what they want. They'll just have to find some other trees's nuts to eat this year!

  3. there's a fungus which kills hazelnut weevils, and which is available in a commercial preparation.

  4. I am so jealous of your early, bonnie Spring!

  5. I wonder why the name catkin (famille de chat) translated by chaton. In the close-up, the tree looks gorgeous with all the flowers hanging gently on its branches.

  6. melinda, yes we do get some nuts, but the weevils and the squirrels get most of them. That's why we want to try a treatment this year, to have more nuts to share with the critters.

    evelyn, amen!

    purejuice, thanks - we'll see if that's available here.

    jayne, it may look like spring from where you are, but it's still winter. Alas.

    claudia, that is a good question. I'll have to delve deeper into the dictionary.

  7. What bright colors for winter! It's just about enough to cheer me up from the February blues...


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