Old Man’s Walking Stick – Tree Or Shrub?

Q: We are in need of your expertise to mediate two differing opinions. We have a mature “Old Man’s Walking Stick” plant. I recall the nursery tag referring to it as a shrub, but my better half recalls it classified as a tree. Which is it?

A: How’s this for a good answer: you’re BOTH right!

“Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick” is Corylus avellana ,’Contorta’. In its contorted form it rarely gets more than eight feet tall, more shrubby than tree like. The regular Corylus avellana, European filbert, grows to twenty feet tall and can easily be pruned to be a small tree.

One thing to look out for is straight branches arising from the base of your “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick”. These occur because it is usually grafted onto a regular filbert rootstock. The understock European filbert sends straight stems up through the contorted limbs you admire. They should be removed whenever noticed.

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