The large hazel trees around the Torridon grounds look fantastic in their hanging tresses of yellow catkins.
These are the male flowers and the dust of their pollen, released by the wind, is what fertilizes the tiny red female flowers.
Pruning the trees in late February means that as the branches are cut, the pollen is shaken from the catkins increasing its distribution to other hazels.
Trees are grown on a single stem to about two half metres high with a hand-shaped fan of branches on the top. When they are maintained like this, it is easy to harvest the nuts from around the branches. Hazels create new stems each year from the ground up and these rods can be used to make baskets or used for pea sticks. On the West Coast of Scotland they were used to make lobster creels and panniers. We have also planted sixteen three year old cobnuts, grown from seed gathered at Plaxtol from trees more than 150 years old. Ours will begin to bear nuts in about five years time but we have plenty of wild hazel to harvest until then.