Hamamelis vernalis is a Witch-hazel native to the Ozark Plateau in central North America, in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.
It is a deciduous large shrub growing to 4 m tall, spreading by stoloniferous root sprouts. The leaves are oval, 7–13cm long and 6.7–13cm broad, cuneate to slightly oblique at the base, acute or rounded at the apex, with a wavy-toothed or shallowly lobed margin, and a short, stout petiole 7–15mm long; they are dark green above, and glaucous beneath, and often persist into the early winter. The flowers are deep to bright red, rarely yellow, with four ribbon-shaped petals 7–10mm long and four short stamens, and grow in clusters; flowering begins in mid winter and continues until early spring (the Latin word vernal is means spring-flowering). The fruit is a hard woody capsule 10–15mm long, which splits explosively at the apex at maturity one year after pollination, ejecting the two shiny black seeds up to 10m distant from the parent plant.
Although often occurring with the related Hamamelis virginiana, it does not intergrade, and can be distinguished by its flowering in late winter (December to March in its native range), not fall.