Hazelnut is a medium sized shrub. These aments are the male flowers. In earlier times the entire bush was used in some fashion. The nuts were eaten raw, or as meal in many dishes. Sometimes they were boiled first to extract the oil. The burs produce black dye. The medicinal uses were many. And the twigs were used for small items. Squirrels apparently really like the young nuts. I went many decades hoping to taste one, only to be beaten to them every time. When I finally did get one from a more vigilant and assertive friend, I was disappointed by the lack of flavor. American hazelnuts grow in AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, MB, ON, and QC(L). Lenawee Co MI, 3/18/12. Birch family, Betulaceae.