VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Plant Pick: Buttercup winter hazel

Latin name: Corylopsis pauciflora

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Corylopsis is an attractive shrub for a woodland garden.  It shows its fragrant, pale yellow flowers in early spring before its leaves emerge. It is generally trouble free and does well growing in slightly acidic garden soil.

Corylopsis is among the earliest spring flowering shrubs. Prior to the appearance of leaves, the bush will have abundant fragrant, pale-yellow flowers arranged in drooping clusters (racemes) of about 3 cm (1 ¼” ). Once leaves emerge, they will be a bronze colour which eventually turns to bright green. While not a very showy bush, it is a great addition to a woodland garden with its very early flowers and its easy maintenance and resistance to pests and diseases. Corylopsis is closely related to witch hazel, both being in the family Hamamelidaceae.





Spreading, multi-stem, deciduous shrub

Foliage type:

Ovate leaves, 3 cm (11/4” ) long


1.5 m (5 ft) height, 2.5 m (8 ft) diameter

Hardiness Zone:



Full sun to part shade. Prefers protection from winds, likes some  afternoon sun.

Flower colour:

Tubular pink/white born in terminal clusters

Leaf colour:

Pale yellow (primrose yellow)

Flower time:

Early to mid-spring

Pests and Diseases:


Preferred soil

and Watering:

Needs acidic, light but organically rich soil with medium moisture but well-drained. Tolerates average garden soils, but does not thrive in heavy clay.


Prune (if needed) immediately after flowering. For propagation sow seed in fall, or layer in fall. Can also be started through green wood cuttings in summer.