Cobnut trees

Cobnuts, hazels and filberts are all names used for the same group of nut trees. Varieties which have nuts with long husks covering the whole shell are referred to as filberts while those with short husks are referred to as cobnuts. For simplicity we will refer to them all as cobnuts. Cobnut trees are the most popular nut trees grown in the UK. They are easy to grow and maintain but do best on well drained soils. They can be grown in most of the UK but produce the best quality nuts in the south. Fresh cobnuts are both delicious and nutritious. In addition to producing nuts, cobnut trees are useful as a hedge, windbreak or screen. Click here for a guide to choosing cobnut trees.

How to choose cobnut trees

Here are some issues that you may find useful in selecting cobnut trees:

Growth habit and tree form. Cobnuts are naturally bushy trees which produce suckers from the base. They can either be grown in their natural form as multi-stem trees by allowing some of the suckers to grow, or with a short trunk by regularly removing the suckers. Cobnuts trees can grow to 5m/15ft or more in height if allowed to, but can be kept to under 3m/10ft by pruning. You should keep the trees pruned if you wish to maximise the crop of nuts and facilitate harvesting. However, if your main purpose is to use the trees as a hedge or screen which also gives you some nuts, you can allow them to grow to their maximum size. The trees we supply are usually two years old with three or more branches on a short base. You should plant trees 5m/15ft apart if you wish to allow them to grow to their maximum size or 4m/12ft apart if you plan to keep them well pruned.

Cropping season. Most of the varieties we supply are ones intended for commercial high quality nut production. Our summers in the UK are not hot enough to produce nuts with sufficient oil content to be suitable for drying like the dried hazelnuts you can buy. Cobnuts grown here should be eaten soon after picking as fresh or “wet” nuts. Fresh nuts are both delicious and nutritious. Cobnuts are ready for picking in September.

Pollination. Cobnut trees are wind pollinated which means that the pollen is carried by the wind rather than insects. Most varieties are self-sterile because the pollen is released by the catkins at a time when the female flowers are not receptive. A combination of varieties needs to be grown for pollen to be available at the right time. You can find suggested pollinators in our description of individual varieties. Wild hazels which are often found in woodlands and hedgerows in much of the country are also excellent pollinators. They are genetically diverse because they are seedling trees and release pollen over a long spread of time. The pollen is carried by wind over long distances.