American Hazelnut is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub found in moist to dry-mesic woodlands throughout Eastern North America. It is notably absent in the deep South. In North Carolina it is reported only in piedmont and mountain counties. This shrub is valued for its sweet nuts, which are edible either raw or used in cooking, its fall foliage colors, which range from reds and oranges to purple and yellow, and for its all around excellent wildlife value. It is 12-15 feet tall and 10-12 feet wide, colonial in nature, and recognizable by the nuts encased in a leafy husk. It is sun-loving and will thrive in a wide variety of soils if they are well drained. Although it will grow in partial shade, the nut production and fall foliage display will both suffer some. Densely branched with large, doubly serrated leaves, American Hazelnut provides excellent cover for a variety of small animals and habitat for songbirds. The foliage supports an array of insects and larvae of butterflies and moths as well as browse by deer and rabbits. The nuts are favored by game birds such as Bobwhites and Ruffed Grouse. Being colonial, it is best used as a hedge or screen or in a natural area where this trait serves as an asset rather than a maintenance item.