Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

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Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick is a plant lover’s plant. It is one of the most unusual plants you will ever see. It captures peoples’ attention from the first time they see it. If you have one in your yard, your neighbors will probably be asking you about it before long.

Botanically known as Corylus Avellana Contorta, and contorta tells the tale. Other common names include ‘Contorted Filbert’, ‘Contorted Hazel’ or ‘Corkscrew Hazel’.

Although technically it belongs to the hazelnut genus (corylus), it doesn’t produce nuts. Apparently it’s nutty enough in its growth habit! It is considered an ornamental shrub and it is highly valued for its ornamental appeal.

HLWS grows to 8-10 feet tallThe branches, as the name suggests grow in heavily spiraled and twisted forms. It is truly a wonderful plant! There are other ‘contorted’ plants, but Harry Lauders really takes it to a whole new level.

It forms yellow catkins in late winter or early spring just before the leaves arrive. This adds to the winter interest, especially if there is any snow on the ground. By the way, snow on a Harry Lauder is pretty spectacular!

The leaves it produces are nice, but not particularly showy. They are green and crinkly, which does make them stand out a bit from most other plants in your garden. Those leaves turn to yellow in November and drop by December 1. The brown crinkly leaves on the ground make an attractive winter mulch. But really, this tree is all about the branches. If you want a plant that looks great in winter, this is about the best there is.

Harry LauderHere in the northwest we are blessed with four distinct seasons. However, most gardeners think plants can only be truly appreciated in three of those seasons. Not true! There are many that put on their best show during the winter months, after the leaves have fallen off. Red twig dogwoods come to mind. Also most willows. But there is really nothing else quite like Harry, as I like to call this plant.

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (HLWS) grows very easily in our climate, and also is hardy down to zone 4. It is also one of the few plants that has no serious disease or insect problems. It also grows well in most soil conditions and in full sun or partial shade. If your thumb is more brown than green, you might want to give Harry a try. He will reward you with many years of easy going entertainment.

Typically this plant is grown in shrub form, and can reach a height and width of about 8-10 feet. It can easily be maintained to a much shorter shrub, though. It can also be trained into a tree form. Place it in a border or use it as a specimen. Any way you grow it, it will bring a unique accent to your garden.

Harry Lauder may be a popular plant, but it isn’t easy to find. Sometimes you’ll come across a few in a garden center, and they usually sell for $79 or more in a 2 or 3 gallon container! It won’t grow true from seed and is very difficult to propagate by cuttings, which is why it is usually a grafted plant.

Harry doesn’t need a lot of care, but there is one thing to be aware of. Because he is a grafted plant, the rootstock tends to sucker. It’s important to cut those suckers off early. They won’t be contorted like the rest of the plant and will generally ruin the whole plant. No big deal, just snip off the suckers, growing from the base of the plant. Cut them right at the trunk and that will take care of them.

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35 Responses to Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

  1. Great post.Thanks a lot.

  2. George W Page says:

    My wife and I purchased a home in SC with a large (8 ft.) Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick which is sick (IF not dead). This spring one side of the tree produced green leaves while the other side had no new leaves. Now both sides have nothing but dead, dried up, leaves.
    We were late cutting the suckers off it, but it is still growing suckers, but not leaves!.
    Should we replace it and try growing another, or nurse it back to good health?
    How fast do they grow?

    GWP
    Lake Murray, SC

    • Scott says:

      It sounds like it is a grafted plant, which most Harry Lauders are. If all it is doing is producing suckers from below the graft, you may as well get rid of it. The suckers will not produce a contorted plant like you bought. Sorry to hear about the loss!

  3. dann bunn says:

    I live in Savannah, GA. Does anyone know where I can buy a Harry Lauder Shrub?

    Does anyone know if this shrub will flourish in my area?

    Thank you,

    Dann

  4. chuck pratt says:

    where can I buy a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and how much are they?

  5. Joyce Coffey says:

    I would love one of these plants for my yard. Will it grow (with adequate water) in the Phoenix area? I believe I am in Zone 9. I am interested in the ones you listed for $15. Could I get two?

    • Scott says:

      Hi Joyce, I just saw this comment, sorry about the delayed response. These are considered hardy in zones 4-8, so I would think it is too hot in Phoenix for them. You might be able to grow them in a shady spot if you are interested in trying them.

  6. Nicole says:

    Hi Scott,

    How can I purchase the Harry’s Walking Stick from you? I reside in NC.

    • Scott says:

      Hi Nicole, I just need your shipping info and your paypal email. I use paypal for all online purchases. The plants I have are $18 for a 2 gallon sized plant. Are you still interested?

  7. Tim Eaton says:

    Hi, Just saw your post about having Harry Lowder walking stick plants for sale. Are these still available?

    Thanks, Tim

  8. Kim Miera says:

    What size pots do you have available and how much are they? I live in SC – Zone 8

    • Scott says:

      The HLWS are $18 and the Red Dragon are $22, both in 2 gallon pots, though if I were to ship them I would ship bare root. Shipping would be around $13-16 total.

  9. Linda says:

    Hi Scott, I live in St.Paul MN, I think it is zone 4. I have been looking for Harry Lauder Walking Stick for three years. Do you still have some available, and if so how are they? I also would like to know more about the Red Dragon. Thank You

    • Scott says:

      Yes, I do still have a few of each. They are hardy to zone 4. The HLWS are $18 and the Red Dragon are $22, both in 2 gallon pots, though if I were to ship them I would ship bare root.
      Red Dragon is similar to HLWS, but it has red leaves, red catkins, and it doesn’t get quite as big.

  10. Larry Garland says:

    If you have any Harry Lowder and red Dragon contorted filberts left.
    please tell me how much for one of each and shipping.
    Address is 114 angel cove lane Belmont, nc 28012
    or po box 1001 belmont nc 28012

    • Scott says:

      Hi Larry,
      The HLWS are $18 and the Red Dragon are $22, both in 2 gallon pots, though if I were to ship them I would ship bare root. Shipping to NC is probably around $13-16 total.

  11. Marilyn says:

    I would like one of each HLWS and Red Dragon if you have any left. please email me with instructions

  12. mark miller says:

    Hello do you still have any HLWS in stock
    THANKS

  13. Linda Alaimo says:

    I live in New York (14873) and would like to purchase a Harry Lauders Walking Stick plant (Contorta). Could you tell me how big it will be and how much?.
    Thank you
    Linda Alaimo

  14. Lynda Davis says:

    Hi,
    I am interested in purchasing one of your Red Dragon contorted filberts. I live near Provo, Utah and I have a small hazel nut tree, but wanted one of these because of the interesting twisted branches of the contorted.
    I have heard that it is important to buy one that grows from the original root – not grafted.
    I don’t believe i have heard of any of these having problems in Utah with beetles or Eastern fungus disease. Do I need to be aware of these type of problems?
    Does this tree produce nuts?
    Will this tree work as a second pollinator tree for my hazelnut tree?
    How do I order one?
    Thanks,
    Lynda Davis

  15. David B Slinkard says:

    Scott, I would like to order 2 HLWS and 2 Red Dragon. How do I place the order to be shipped to NC. Where are you located? Are they grafted plants?

  16. Kathy Parsons says:

    I have been very interested in the walking cane shrub for years now.I live in northern Michigan. Would they grow and what is the cost?Thanks for your time.

  17. Noreen says:

    Hi Scott,
    Would it be possible to get 2 of each shipped to 19067?

  18. Nancy Gunzberg says:

    I just purchased a beauty HLWS and am afraid I was steered wrong at the retail nursery. I live in Santa Barbara, CA, zone 9. It was quite expensive. I’m too blocks from the beach so we do get some fog. I understand Eastern Filbert Bight is a problem. I was going to put it in full sun but perhaps a little shade would be better?

    Moravia (which is where the plant comes from) says they wont’ sell one to zone 9.
    Yikes! What have I done?

    • Scott says:

      Yeah, they generally don’t do well in warmer climates, but if you keep it somewhat shaded, you may as well keep it and see what happens. Sometimes plants surprise us and do better than expected!

  19. Clint Goulet says:

    Curious if you have any Corylus Red Majestic available to ship ? Im in Mid Michigan I would like to give one a try.

    Send me an email with details if possible.

    Clint

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