What we grow - Biodiversity



The hazelnut, also called avellana, is the fruit of the hazelnut tree (Corylus avellana, a fruit tree belonging to the Betulaceae family), a plant cultivated by man since ancient times. The name of the genus comes from the Greek “kórys” (Helmet) or from “kurl”, the Celtic name of the plant, while the specific epithet derives from “Avella” (Province of Avellino – Italy) area known since ancient times for the cultivation of hazelnut trees. Originally from Mesopotamia, it has spread throughout Europe, especially in the Mediterranean area and the Balkans. For its fruits with high fat content, the hazelnut plant was appreciated by both the Greeks and the Romans and was considered to have particular and magical qualities. The wizards’ wands were created with its wood and one of the many legends concerning it states that this fruit tree cannot be struck by lightning. Legend has it that this fact is due to the gratitude of the Madonna who had been protected by a hazelnut tree during a strong storm. According to some research it seems that hazelnut cultivation was already present in Italy in Roman times. At the time of ancient Rome it was customary to donate plants of Corylus Avellana to wish happiness. The same happened in France, where the plant was given to the spouses as a symbol of fertility. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was introduced in the Alta Langa (Piedmont), to give profitability to marginal land and, especially since the 1960s, cultivation has expanded massively. In Italy, currently, the main cultivation areas are found in Piedmont, Lazio (Especially in the area of ​​Tuscia, Viterbo), Campania and Sicily (Especially Nebrodi and Etna Mountains). 


The plant has a bushy or tree-like habit, generally 2-4 meters high (In free form it can reach 7-8 meters). It has simple, heart-shaped leaves with a toothed margin. It is a monoecious diclinic, deciduous and broadleaf species, with rapid growth. The inflorescences are unisexual. The males in pendulous catkins that form in autumn, the females resemble a small bud. Each hazelnut cultivar is self-sterile and needs to be pollinated by another cultivar. The fruit (Hazelnut) is wrapped in bracts from which it releases when ripe and falls. This plant thrives in the Mediterranean Basin. The hazelnut is commonly counted among the dried fruit, it is greenish in color (Initially) and then brownish, with the continuation of the degree of ripeness. The pericarp is partly covered by a leafy envelope with an irregular margin. The seed, placed inside, is edible and has a crunchy consistency.


The properties of hazelnuts, like all nuts, are given by the richness of good fatty acids (100 grams of hazelnuts provide 670 kcal), mineral salts (Potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium), vitamins (Vitamins of group B and vitamin E, a very powerful antioxidant, as well as vitamins C and D) and fiber, giving hazelnuts a particularly low glycemic index, as well as properties that are very important for health. In addition, the fats present in hazelnuts help to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and promote the increase of good cholesterol (HDL), as well as being rich in compounds with antioxidant action. There are also plant compounds that play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease and chronic diseases. Hazelnuts, with their intense aroma and enveloping taste, are among the ingredients that are most suitable for use in pastry and sweet preparations. Roasting, one of the most important phases, enhances the aroma and guarantees a longer duration. The hazelnut chocolate cream can be used to fill cakes, but also to be consumed simply on a slice of bread. In pastry, in the preparation of ice cream and chocolate, hazelnut goes well with many ingredients, even the most acidic, such as berries or lemon. In addition, some flours, such as buckwheat, spelt or oat, are able to enhance the aroma of this fruit. Among the most famous recipes are the hazelnut cake and chocolate pralines made with chocolate and hazelnuts.


The hazelnut tree is a rustic plant that adapts to even the most clayey soils, taking care to avoid water stagnation. It prefers a climate that does not have too many seasonal changes, in fact it fears the intense cold in the pollination phase, if the temperatures drop below -12°C, moreover, it also fears excessive heat, in case the temperatures are above 35°C for a long time. It loves loose and fresh soils, with a neutral PH. It is good, at least once a year, to carry out an organic fertilization, using earthworm humus or compost. In this case, in winter, just spread the fertilizer around the base of the tree. Prolonged water shortages cause a vegetative imbalance, reduce plant growth, differentiate flower buds, accentuate fruit drop, thus reducing tree production. The pruning of the hazel is a complex operation that is divided into several stages. The best time to prune the hazelnut tree is winter, between leaf fall and flowering. As a cultivation technique, you can also choose to grow low grass around the orchard, while maintaining the structure of the soil in the surface layers unaltered. In organic farming this technique is quite widespread, but it requires constant attention.