Characteristics of Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in the Wild

Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is a species of deciduous tree in the Cercidiphyllaceae family native to China and Japan.

This species is listed as an endangered species in China, but in total the Japanese population, Cercidiphyllum japonicum is classified as a lower risk.

The Chinese katsura tree was distinguished in the past and was named as Cercidiphyllum japonicum var. sinense, but is now considered the same species as Cercidiphyllum japonicum.

Today katsura is cultivated and widely grown as an ornamental tree in Japan and elsewhere with suitable climates. Apart from being a complement to the landscape, the katsura tree is also cultivated for its valuable wood for construction and woodworking.

There are several cultivars of katsura that are suitable for growing ornamental trees, including:

    Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Aureum’
    Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Heronswood Globe’
    Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Ruby’

Three cultivars have even received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 2017, namely:

    Cercidiphyllum japonicum
    Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Heronswood Globe’
    Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum


Characteristics of Katsura Leaf

Cercidiphyllum japonicum Leaf
Source: Huft

Leaves in pairs, opposite long shoots and single short shoots, 1.4-4.7 cm petiole, heart-shaped leaf base, and crenate edge.

The leaves on short shoots are larger, 4-9 cm long, 5-8 cm wide, and the leaves on long shoots are smaller, 3-4.5 cm long, and 2-3 cm wide. The leaves turn into a variety of colors, from pink to orange to bright yellow in autumn.

Katsura leaves produce an aroma in fall, resembling burnt brown sugar, cotton candy, or caramel.


Characteristics of Katsura Flower

Cercidiphyllum japonicum Flower
Source: Tree Library

The flowers are inconspicuous and appear in early spring between the leaves, with male and female flowers on separate (dioecious) trees.


Characteristics of Katsura Fruit

Cercidiphyllum japonicum Fruit
Source: Tree Library

The fruit is in groups of 2-4 follicles, 1-2 cm long, 2-3 mm wide, and each follicle contains several winged seeds.


Characteristics of Katsura Tree

Cercidiphyllum japonicum Tree
Source: leonard

The katsura tree can grow into a medium to large tree up to 10-45 meters high, with a trunk diameter of up to 2 meters.

Katsura is very sensitive to drought and requires permanently moist soil. In dry conditions, the tree will shed its leaves.


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