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1540s, probably from Old English wice "wych-elm" (from wican "to bend") + hæsel, used for any bush of the pine family. The North American bush, from which a soothing lotion is made, was so called from 1670s.
witch hazel n.
Any of several deciduous shrubs or small trees of the genus Hamamelis, especially H. virginiana, of eastern North America, having yellow flowers that bloom in late autumn or winter.
An alcoholic solution containing an extract of the bark and leaves of this plant, applied externally as a mild astringent.