Shrubs or small trees , suckering or bearing stolons, not aromatic and resinous; twigs, young leaves, and flower buds stellate-pubescent. Bark gray to gray-brown, smooth or slightly roughened. Dormant buds naked, stellate-pubescent; terminal bud and 1 of each pair of lateral buds stalked, with 2 subtending scales. Leaves short-petiolate. Leaf blade broadly elliptic to obovate, pinnately veined, base oblique, cuneate, margins repand to sinuate, apex rounded to acute or short-acuminate. Inflorescences axillary, (1-)3(-5)-flowered, stalked clusters. Flowers bisexual, appearing before or with leaves; calyx lobes 4, reflexed, adnate to ovary; petals 4, yellow or orange to deep red, liguliform, circinnate in bud, notched or truncate, sometimes pointed; stamens 4, very short within cup; anthers introrse, dehiscing by 2 valves hinged adaxially on connective; staminodes 4, opposite petals, bearing nectar; styles 2, subulate, spreading to recurved. Capsules solitary or 2-3 together, fused with persistent tubular calyx, stylar beaks very short, loculicidally 2-valved, woody, appressed stellate-pubescent, explosively dehiscent. Seeds 2 per capsule, black, glossy, bony, not winged. x = 12. In Hamamelis , the explosively dehiscent capsules may eject the seeds to 10 m. The Japanese species H . japonica Siebold & Zuccarini, with reddish to yellow flowers, suggests an affinity with H . vernalis . Both Asian species, H . japonica and H . mollis Oliver of China, and the hybrid H . × intermedia Rehder (= H . japonica × H . mollis ), with a number of cultivars, are widely cultivated.
Fls perfect, 4-merous, with linear pet and small, triangular sep; stamens 4, opposite and much shorter than the sep, alternating with scale- like staminodes; styles 2, short; ovule 1 per cell, suspended, anatropous; capsule half- inferior, pubescent; tall shrubs with toothed lvs, the fls in short-peduncled axillary clusters. 6, N. Amer. and e. Asia.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.