In our Gangivecchio hazelnut groves the 2008 crop has matured and the ground is now literally carpeted with brown nuts. The hazelnut grows as a small spreading tree or a large clump-forming shrub. Its seeds or 'nuts' develop singly or in clusters of as many as five. Each nut is partly enclosed in a short leafy husk until autumn when it matures and falls to the ground. Hazelnut kernels are rich in unsaturated fats and protein and they supply vitamin B6 and thiamine as well. The nuts are eaten raw or roasted, in confections like cookies and cakes, and candies, especially in combination with chocolate. Other uses include a hazelnut vodka liqueur (Frangelico) and a flavoring for coffee. It happens that our local, ground dwelling porcupines also have a passion for hazelnuts, and at this time of year these nocturnal animals make regular nightly forays into the groves to feast on fallen nuts.
Scientific name: Corylus avellana
Italian common name: Nocciolo comune
English common name: Hazelnut