Monthly Archives: May 2013

Plup Wood and Witch hazel– A long history of misreprestenting “what is witch hazel”



This is an interesting snip of Good Housekeeping . The snip shows that it was common practice to use the whole witch hazel plant for distillation, pulp wood and all.  SO why is the witch hazel  USP formula for twigs?

Keeping it REAL–Pulp Free Witch Hazel–How to find real witch hazel products



A Wild Crops Farm is one of two distillers of American Witch Hazel in the United States.  The other is American Distilling, which represents all the other brands of  witch hazel.  Because they are industrial and we are artesian, our products have a life essence from the plant.

#1.)  We do not at this time produce witch hazel usp.  However, if we did – it would contain real twigs, rather than pulp wood.   Because we are small, we do it right.  We respect the forest and  the essence of the life force of the species. 

#2)  One of my first experience with organic witch hazel came from a well know retailer of herbal products.  They were offering witch hazel from Poland, that was in fact, hazel nut leaf.  Not even in the same factory.

#3.)  Our  products  are real – if it  says leaf, we picked leaf and not twigs.  IF it says fresh, the leaves and the distillate were done the same day. 

W#5.)  I challenge ANY ONE TO A WITCH OFF!!!!  I see a film in the making !

Witch Hazel Monographs profile for cortex, also known as witch hazel bark from branches and stems of the Hamamelis



Cortex – EU Monograph – Spring collection of bark from twigs, branches and stem (trunk)

WHO – World Health Organization – Monograph,

Folium et Cortex Hamamelidis


Folium et Cortex Hamamelidis consists of the dried or fresh leaves and/or the dried bark of Hamamelis virginiana L. (Hamamelidaceae).


(Not more than 2% other material (non-bark or pulp wood) European pharmacopoeia, 3rd ed. Strasbourg, Council


Spring leaves, twigs

Sclereids abundant, vary considerably in size, are of 2 types: rounded to oval, or subrectangular; heavily thickened, usually in groups of just 2 or 3 cells, but smaller cells often form larger groups; walls have numerous, conspicuous branched pits and striations, particularly in the larger cells; other type of sclereids more regular in size and form, frequently found associated with the cork, occurring as a layer of small, polygonal cells with no intercellular spaces. Fibres occur in groups surrounded by a sheath of prismatic calcium oxalate crystals; individual fibres very thick-walled and lignified with indistinct lumen with calcium oxalate prismatic crystals scattered as well as in the parenchyma surrounding the fibres. Crystals also occasionally found associated with thickerwalled sclereids; crystals fairly uniform in size, although a few very large prisms may occur. Parenchyma cells thin-walled, several filled with dark brown contents. Medullary rays uniseriate, composed of rounded cells with slightly thickened walls. Cork cells thin-walled and polygonal. Fragments of lignified xylem tissue from adherent wood infrequent and consist of narrow tracheids with conspicuous bordered pits, accompanied by thin-walled fibres and pitted medullary ray cells. Starch grains rare; a few small, spherical grains may be found in some parenchymatous cells (12).


Channelled, seldom quilled or in strips, up to 3 cm wide and 2 mm thick. Outer surface light yellowish-brown or reddish-brown, has thin, whitish or greyishbrown cork with numerous lenticels; inner surface yellowish-brown to reddishbrown, longitudinally striated. Fracture splintery and fibrous (9).

Total ash



Not more than 6% (2).

Acid-insoluble ash


Not more than 1.5% (2).

ESCOP Monograph

Hamamelidis folium” consists of the dried or fresh leaves of Hamamelis virginiana L. It contains not less than 3% of tannins, expressed as pyrogallol (C6H6O3; Mr 126.1) and calculated with reference to the dried drug. The material complies with the monograph of the European Pharmacopoeia 6.1, [monograph (04/2008:0909)].

Hamamelidis cortex” consists of the dried bark from the stems, branches and twigs of Hamamelis virginiana L.

Hamamelidis ramunculus (twigs)” have structures called buds, leaf scars and bundle scars that can differ for different species. Hamamelis twig is the herbal substance used in the preparation of hamamelis water, or as Witch Hazel as described in USP monograph.

Reconciling standards in witch hazel manufacturing–witch hazel USP, BC, WHO–No, witch hazel is not a uniform natural medicine



Witch Hazel has been an interesting study as we compared  manufacturing practices to legal formulas  around the globe .  One can make medicine from the leaves, twigs and bark (not pulp wood, but bark) and the part used to make the medicines depends on where a company does business or where you live.  Medicines can be made from fresh or dried material and the jurisdiction .

All production standards agree (at least that I have read) require the botanical identity be Hamamelis Virgininia albeit, the World Health Organization had listed Hazel Nut as a common synonym .

The World Health Organization’s monograph for witch hazel is very different from witch hazel UPS. The WHO monograph:


Folium et Cortex Hamamelidis consists of the dried or fresh leaves and/or the dried bark of Hamamelis virginiana L. (Hamamelidaceae).

Folium Hamamelidis consists of the dried (1, 2) or fresh leaves (3), and Cortex Hamamelidis consists of the dried bark of the trunk and twigs of Hamamelis virginiana L. (2, 4).

The monographs were drafted by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, United States of America. The content was obtained by a systematic review of scientific literature from 1975 until the end of 1995: review articles; bibliographies in review articles; many pharmacopoeias-the International, African, British, Chinese, Dutch, European, French, German, Hungarian, Indian, and Japanese; as well as many other reference books. The WHO monographs are  not intended to replace official compendia such as pharmacopoeias, formularies, or legislative documents.

Each medicinal plant and the specific plant part used (the drug) contain active or major chemical constituents with a characteristic profile that can be used for chemical quality control and quality assurance.

Interestingly, most other countries (where hamamelis is not an  indigenous species  formulate with the FRESH twigs, and new leaves of spring.  This makes a great deal of botanical business sense.  IF the United States were to manufacturer with the most active ingredient dormant (twigs) the leaf and bark from the stems and branches would be a profitable by-product allowing for harvest production through out the year. 

At this point, what I find confusing is the lack of raw material botanical producers supplying bark and leaf.  Also, it becomes really confusing that the “witch hazel brush cutters” chip the entire tree rather than strip the bark.  Certainly, debarking Hamamelis does not require great skill.  It is certainly a puzzle, as the  more plant parts with econonic value, the valuable the plant is.  We have found in our wild crops work, that grading, sizing and certification of identify or standards to be the least expensive of all value added processes for wild  plant collection.

What is it that people buy as witch hazel for $20.00 per gallon? Is it real or just alcohol water?


We noticed awhile back, that Witch Hazel UPS (a legal formula) was made from twigs of the Hamamelis while the world’s only large manufacturer of the product, chopped whole trees to make their product .  The product was not made from twigs, thus the active parts of the plant were adulterated by pulp wood.  This was beyond stunning – so, what are people paying $20.00 a gallon for?  It is certainly not  witch hazel, in its legal formula and we would suggest – people start demanding some kind of validation of the raw material used in manufacturing.

We did a test harvest and distillation of witch hazel twigs (not dormant) just a spring harvest of the twigs, with their tiny leaves.  Our pickers were able to harvest 3 pounds of twigs per hour.  






The 4 gallons we produced were absolutely beautiful and very strong! So, what is going on in world of witch hazel distilling, hell if we know!