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Shetland's Native Hazel Tree

July 2022 update

An update on our hazel tree, a relict of Shetland’s ancient woodlands, 
Back in 2019 we reported on how our woodlands team had successfully cloned and pollinated the last native hazel tree in Shetland – and it had produced its first hazelnut.

Until recently there were two native hazel trees growing in Shetland, one in a ravine at Catfirth and the other on an island holm at Punds Water. These hazel trees were the last remaining survivors of their kind from Shetland’s ancient native woodlands. Sadly, the tree at Punds Water is now gone, but before that happened the team collected pollen from it to try and cross pollinate the Catfirth Hazel. After the initial excitement at seeing the growth of hazelnuts it was sadly unsuccessful as all the fruits were empty with no seeds.

However, conservation is all about optimism and perseverance! We have managed to pollinate our Catfirth Hazel using pollen from an Orkney Hazel, the closest relative to our Shetland Hazel.

The results so far? Things are looking hopeful with the first hazelnuts beginning to emerge. And now the waiting game begins to see if the nuts are successful or not.

Even if the Shetland hazel cannot be reproduced anymore, a really close relative could be grown here and help keep the genetic diversity of Shetland trees alive.
We’ll keep you posted!