This morning, while walking past Eastgate Cafe on my way to Columbus Park, I noticed some strange green things on one of the outdoor tables:
I looked up into the tree they seemed to have fallen from, and I saw heart-shaped leaves with lots of teeth. Some teeth looked bigger than others:
I was stumped! I had walked past this tree dozens of times and assumed it was something familiar, like maybe a kind of basswood. Obviously I had not been paying close enough attention!
Fortunately, the Village of Oak Park has published an inventory of trees planted along Village streets (2009 version available here as a large PDF file). I couldn’t find the Eastgate Cafe’s exact address in the Inventory, but I did come across an unfamiliar tree name–Turkish Filbert–that was found at other places along Harrison Street. So I googled around until I found some photos of Turkish Filbert fruits. Some of the photos looked kind of similar to what I found, and some looked like exact matches, like the photos found here and here.
Those photos came from an Oregon State University web page (here), which also listed several other species in the same genus (Colylus). Some of those had similar fruits, so I can’t say for certain that the Eastgate Cafe tree is Corylus colurna, the Turkish Filbert. However, it does seem to be of that genus. (Another name for this species is Turkish Hazel, but there are other kinds of bushes and trees called Hazels, so I’ll stick with the common name Filbert for now.)
You may recognize “filbert” as a kind of nut, also known as the “hazelnut,” and Turkish Filbert trees really do produce nuts that people can eat. However, Wikipedia says that Turkish Filbert nuts are too small and their shells are too thick for them to have much commercial value. (Other Corylus species, like Common Hazel, probably produced the nuts you’ve eaten.) Regardless, I’m going to visit this tree throughout the summer, hoping to find some ripe nuts that I can eat!
Here are some additional web sites with information about the Turkish Filbert:
- Colorado Trees: Web page with some basic information and small photos of Turkish Filbert trees.
- US Forest Service: Fact sheet about Turkish Filbert (PDF file).
- University of Illinois Extension: Basic information about growing Turkish Filbert trees.
- Wikipedia: Encyclopedia-style information about the Turkish Filbert.