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More Information About Cercidiphyllum

Cercidiphyllum is an Asian genus of trees known commonly as Katsura tree or in France as 'Arbre d'caramel'...the caramel tree. Katsura tree is popular amongst those in-the-know for its heart-shaped leaves and fall foliage. Not only do the senescing autumn leaves delight with their yellow-apricot-orange color but also with a sweet scent that reminds people of either caramelized sugar, cotton candy, brown sugar, cookies, cake, ripe apples, crushed strawberries or cinnamon depending on the nose of the sniffer.

In early spring the new leaves may emerge purplish and then fade to a nice bluish green by summer. As a garden specimen, Cercidiphyllum is a pyramidal (Chinese provenance trees) or rounded (Japanese provenance trees) tree that tends to form low branches and mulitple trunks (but tolerates limbing up and pruning to shape). Those of you looking to commemorate a loved-one should keep in mind the heart-shaped leaves which are a popular trait for remembrance gardens. Cercidiphyllum is soil-type-agnostic and likes sun or part shade but does not tolerate drought well and will need some supplemental irrigation or some other source of water during dry periods.

There are just a handful of Cercidiphyllum cultivars, usually hailing from Japan, that posess a rounder habit, or a weeping habit. The Royal Horticultural Society of England prizes this tree and has bestowed it with an Award of Garden Merit...high praise! Katsura tree is dioecious which means that there are male plants and female plants. The flowers are not showy and the fruits split open in the fall to release winged seeds. In its native Asia, Katsura tree is a popular timber species and the soft pale wood is used to make boards for the Japanese game Go as well as cabinets. Cercidophyllum wood is somewhat weak and may break under heavy snow or wind loads. And the roots are shallow and with age will break the soil surface which can present a trip hazard or lift sidewalks.