The Katsura tree is a well-known connoisseur's tree. It is polished and handsome and the quintessential specimen tree. There is, however, a cultivar of Katsura tree that is even more rare, and yet, so lovely that one runs out of superlatives when describing it. This is the Weeping katsura, or  Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Pendulum'.

If this tree is viewed as a young juvenile, it would probably make little impression, since at that stage, like most juveniles, it is gangly and imbalanced. But after 10 years or so, it begins to rise up and develop a handsome pyramidal form which begins to show the foliage to best effect. Cercis-like (Cercis = redbud), heart-shaped blue-green leaves are borne on slender, pendulous branches that cascade from the crown while sweeping groundwards. This foliage, famous for its autumnal caramel scent, emerges bronze purple in early spring, turning a handsome blue-green for summer, until it fades to apricot by the end of the season. The tiny. but pretty, red flowers emerge just before the leaf-out.

Any katsura stands out, but the Weeping katsura stands out all year long since it has the additional attraction of a fascinating branch structure throughout the winter.  But perhaps the greatest asset is the fact that the Weeping katsura becomes more handsome with every passing year. After many years the form has changed from a lolling pyramid to a full-rounded maturity that makes it the garden centre-piece.

It is best suited to a residential garden due to its compact proportions. It only reaches 20 to 30 feet tall with a similar spread. It is a superb specimen subject or courtyard tree, and is especially striking when sited along water courses and pools. It will do best in light shade, in rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil and is pest and disease resistant.

Not surprisingly, the Weeping katsura has received an Award of Garden Merit form the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society.

Weeping katsura


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