Corylus colurna: a potential multi-use tree species
Corylus colurna an economically important deciduous forest tree species belonging to family betulaceae, is found throughout the temperate Himalayan region chiefly from Kashmir to Kumaon distributed over an altitudinal range of 1800-3300m. It is commonly known as Turkish Hazel nut and is a rich source of Vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids and linolenic acid. In addition to this hazel nuts contain a significant amount of B complex vitamins like riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid. Hazel nuts contain a significant amounts of phosphorus, manganese, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and folates. The nuts are used as a substitute for almonds and therefore also known as Bhotia-badam. Seeds of this species yield edible oil and are collected from forest by the local people for their own consumption (eaten raw) as well as for sale in the market. The nuts are used in chocolates, confectionary items and in preparation of butter. It is a good fodder tree and natural dye is also obtained from this plant.
The species thus has been reported to belonging to threatened category of conservation status. Seeds of C. colurna exhibit physiological dormancy and failure of dormancy breaking conditions to prevail in the natural habitat region of the species could also impair the process of germination leading to failure of regeneration. Thus it is important to focus on the sustainable use of this species so that commercial exploitation on large scale could be prevented.