Witch-hazel (Hama, ˌhæməˈmiːlɪs) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with three species in North America (H. ovalis, H. virginiana and H.vernalis), and one each in Japan (H. Japonicamelis) and China (H. mollis). The North American species are occasionally called winter bloom Witch hazel is a plant. The leaf, bark, and twigs are used to make medicine. You may see a product called witch hazel water (Hamamelis water, distilled witch hazel extract). This is a liquid that is distilled from dried leaves, bark, and partially dormant twigs of Hamamelis virginiana.
Etymology The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning “pliant” or “bendable”. “Witch hazel” was used in England as a synonym for Wych Elm, Ulmus glabra; American colonists simply extended the familiar name to the new shrub. The use of the twigs as divining rods, just as hazel twigs were used in England, may also have, by folk etymology, influenced the “witch” part of the name. Genera The Persian Ironwood, a closely related tree formerly treated as Hamamelis persica, is now given a genus of its own, as Parrotia persica, as it differs in the flowers not having petals. Other closely allied genera are Parrotiopsis, Fothergilla and Sycopsis (see under Hamamelidaceae). Witch-hazels are not closely related to the true Corylus hazels, though they have a few superficially similar characteristics which may cause one to believe that they are. . Medicinal uses Witch hazel (astringent) The leaves and bark of the North American Witch-hazel Hamamelis virginiana may be used to produce an astringent, also referred to as witch hazel, and is used medicinally. This plant extract was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians and is a component of a variety of commercial healthcare products. It’s mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care. It is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent. It is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema, aftershave applications, ingrown nails, to prevent sweating of the face, cracked or blistered skin, for treating insect bites, poison ivy, and as a treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is found in numerous over-the-counter hemorrhoid preparations. It is recommended to women to reduce swelling and soothe wounds resulting from childbirth.