Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

Young Harry Lauder with his walking stick

An oddity.
This twisted shrub is named for Scottish Vaudeville stageman [Harry Lauder] (b. 1870, d. 1950), who often performed with a gnarled walking stick.

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (also simply called contorted hazelnut or contorted filbert), is a non-fruit bearing cultivar of the common hazelnut or filbert. Its parent, Corylus avellana, is the species grown commercially for edible nuts.


The shrub itself grows in a spreading clump about eight to twelve feet high if left to its own devices. The deciduous leaves a broad and fuzzy with a serrated margin. Small, yellowish flowers bloom in early spring before the leaves come in.

It shines in winter. After the foliage drops, the corkscrew character of the branches takes center stage. In late spring and summer, reproductive catkins hang in dusty clusters along the branches and remain through much of the winter. It’s definitely a great specimen plant and fun to sneak into otherwise innocent-looking shrub borders.

There are quite a few of these around Raleigh, but the pictures featured in this post come from the plants at J.C. Raulston Arboretum.

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ in early April












And here’s one of Harry Lauder’s most famous songs, “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’”, from a 1911 release:

2 Responses to “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick”

  1. Peggy Powis Says:

    I am a videographer in Boothbay, Maine, doing pro bono work with The Lerner Garden of the Five Senses at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The garden celebrates and encourages participation by people of all abilities and disabilities. I have a 30 second piece on the Lauder plant that mentions the comic, and I would like to use the man’s image seen here in the piece. Are you the owner of the rights to use or can you direct me to who or what is? Or do you know if the image is in the public domain? Thank you in advance for your response.

  2. admin Says:

    It’s my understanding the image is now in the public domain based on when the photo was taken (sometime between 1900-1915). You might also want to check up on the images on this blog post as well: http://soundofthehound.com/2012/05/04/harry-lauder-1870-1950/.
    Good luck! I interned in an ability garden one summer.

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