Katsura Tree

Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum )

Summary Data
SpeciesSizeBasic Requirements
Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum )At 20 years the height is 20’ with a spread of 12’. Mature height can be 40 to 60’ with a spread of 30 to 50’. Growth rate is medium at 12 to 18 inches per yearZones 4B through 8B; full sun or very light shade; clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; well-drained

A beautiful landscape tree, Katsuratree has many desirable characteristics. It is a medium to large tree with a spreading habit and dense foliage offering excellent shade. Katsuratrees are pyramidal in youth, with full and dense foliage. These trees vary greatly with maturity, some trees maintaining a pyramidal habit while others become more wide-spreading. The Katsuratree is unusual in that it has a shallow root system with some roots growing on the surface of the soil. Some of the roots can grow to six inches in diameter or more above the soil. The trunk normally flares out at the base, gracefully dividing into the numerous shallow roots often prominent at the soil surface. So while surface roots are a nuisance with Maples, with this tree they can be considered an aesthetic feature.

This tree offers a range of colors over the entire year that is second to none. The leaves of this tree emerge, not green, but a beautiful reddish purple. Then as the season progresses the leaves turn dark bluish green. In the fall things get exciting. The fall color of this tree varies from an intense yellow. In some cases, however, they turn a gorgeous apricot orange that is quite memorable. To add to the autumn pizzazz, as the leaves fall they give off a modestly spicy odor making you think of cotton candy. But the performance is not over. Once bereft of leaves, Katsuratree bark takes over the show with a beautiful pattern of slight exfoliation and medium gray color that is generally very handsome.

The flowers of this tree are not part of the entertainment. They are an inconspicuous green open from late March to early April before the leaves come out to do their technicolor review. The hard dry fruits are elongated pods about 1 inch long. They are not showy and don’t attract wildlife.

Katsuratree Choices

Multistemmed trees are sold in garden centers. They make nice specimens for lawn and park areas. Cultivars include Heronswood Globe which is a small tree with a round crown. Pendula has a weeping habit reaching a height of 20 feet and a spread of 10 feet.

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