2016

 
 

One of the lesser known, but more attractive members of the genus styrax, a genus consisting of over 130 species, is the Chinese snowbell tree, or Styrax hemsleyana. Nowhere are these refined ornamentals common but the Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus) and the Fragrant snowbell or Big-leaved snowbell (Styrax obassia) are somewhat more popular. The Chinese snowbell tree is differentiated from the others most notably in the leaves which are larger and more pale, making the foliage an even better back-drop for the delicate, bell-shaped flowers that occur in spring. These blossoms are held in drooping, racemes along light branches and are immaculately white with golden stamens. The spreading, open branching displays the bloom to best effect along with the mid-green foliage which turns beautiful shades of red and gold in autumn.

Chinese snowbell tree only reaches 25 feet with a 20 foot spread when grown along a woodland verge, and is somewhat smaller when grown in full sun.  It prefers moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soils. It fits well in the modern garden as well as in naturalized settings.

This small connoisseur tree is a recipient of an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society and though it may be difficult to find it is more than worth the effort.

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Chinese snowbell

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