Katsura, or Cercidiphyllum japonicum, is a tree that frequently appears on Connoisseur lists. It is a refined, long lived tree, deciduous, of medium texture and usually single trunked with a beautiful upright, rounded shape. The flowers are not very showy, nor are the fruits, but the foliage is. The leaves resemble Redbud leaves, hence the name Cercidiphyllum since Redbud is Cercis. In spring the leaves open in shades of pink, red and purple, then turn green with a bluish cast for summer. But it’s in autumn when the real show takes place. That’s when the leaves turn to rich orange and red and burgundy. And these autumnal leaves, once fallen, emit a delicate smell likened to burnt sugar and spice.

Katsura takes sun to part sun and adapts to most soil types. There are few pests or disease problems and it requires little maintenance other than judicious pruning for shape. It’s an ideal specimen tree that typically matures at 40-60 feet which puts it into the medium category. One of the more popular cultivars is Cercidyphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’ – Weeping Katsura, and there is also Cercidyphyllum magnificum, which is a smaller species Although it’s native to Japan and China, it does very well throughout the UK, cool-temperate New Zealand and Australia, southernmost Canada and the cooler half of the United States.

As always, trees this rare are not likely to be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely found in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries.



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