Domain: Eukarya

Witch hazel is considered a eukaryote because of the presence of a nucleus and many membrane bound organelles.

Kingdom: Plantae (Land Plants)

Witch hazel falls in the Plantae kingdom because it has cell walls made up of cellulose. It also has an alternation of generations in its reproduction. This means at some point during witch hazel’s life cycle there will be a multicellular haploid and multicellular diploid stage.

Phylum: Angiospermata

Angiosperms are known as the flowering plants that produce fruits. Witch hazel belongs in this group because it produces blooming flowers in late September through November. Similar to all other angiosperms, witch hazel’s ovules are protected from the environment by the ovary walls. After fertilization, the ovary will mature into the fruit of the witch hazel.

The phylogenetic tree that follows shows the relationship between the Hamamelis genus and the all other angiosperm genera.

Class: Eudicotyledones

The Eudicots are a smaller class within the flowering plants. They typically possess flowers with a multiple of four or five petals. Witch hazel flower’s have four petals. As well as the distinct flowers, all eudicots have a distinct vein pattern within their leaves. The veins do not run parallel but actually form a web-like pattern.

Order: Saxifragales

The Saxifragales vary greatly in their morphology, making it hard to categorize any distinct similarities within the order.

Family: Hamamelidaceae

Witch hazel is part of the Hamamelidaceae family because of its bisexuality, presence of a four petal flower and its insect pollination of the four petal flowers. Witch hazel is a bisexual because its flower contains both the female and male reproduction organs (PLANTS 2012).

Genus: Hamamelis

Witch hazel is part of the Hamamelis genus because of the way its flowers are clustered. Witch hazel, like all other organisms within this genus, are known to have an inflorescence. An inflorescence is a group of closely positioned flowers on a stem or branch (Wen 1999).

Species: virginiana

Hamamelis virginiana is unique because the flowers bloom in late fall while most other plants within the Hamamelis genus bloom in the spring (Anderson and Hill 2002).

The following phylogenetic tree is mainly based on geographical locations of the six species found in the Hamamelis  Genus. This tree shows that Hamamelis virginiana  is most closely related to the species Hamamelis ovallis.

Now that you've learned why witch hazel is named Hamamelis virginiana, lets learn about where witch hazel can be found on the Habitat page!