Japanese Snowbell

Botanical Name: Styrax japonicus

Alternate Name: Japanese Snowdrop

The Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus) is an elegant, small deciduous tree. It is prized for its clusters of delicate, hanging bell-shaped flowers that cover the tree in late spring and early summer. This tree originates in China, Japan, and Korea. Its  canopy is rounded, with a compact growth and horizontal branching. It grows to a height and spread of 20-30 feet but under optimal conditions can grow to 50 feet tall.

The blooms of the Japanese Snowbell appear in May or June. The profusion of fragrant, white, pendulous, bell-shaped flowers with bright yellow anthers provides a show-stopping display. This is accentuated by the upward growing leaves that allow the flowers to be seen in all their glory.

The fruits that follow the flowers are drupes, approximately ½ inches in size. They are greenish-brown and can persist late into the fall. The leaves are glossy and grow up to 3 inches long. They are thinly elliptical to oval in shape and medium to dark green. The fall color can be unremarkable, but sometimes the leaves will turn bright yellow and red. 

The bark of the Japanese Snowbell tree is gray with deep furrows on more mature trees. These can expose the orange inner bark providing a display on the winter silhouette – giving the tree seasonal interest after the leaves have dropped.

Not susceptible to any significant diseases or pests. This tree can be slow to establish.

Height: 20-30 ft.

Width: 20-30 ft.

Shape: Rounded

Flower Color: White

Flowering Time: May-June

Fall Color: Yellow, Red

Features: Showy fragrant flowers, winter interest

Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

Watering: Moderate & Regular

Soil: Prefers acidic, rich, moist, well-drained soils.

Growth Rate: Slow

USDA Zones: 5-9

Uses: Accent tree, lawn tree, Japanese/Asian gardens, woodland gardens

Similar trees: Magnolia virginiana ‘Jim Wilson’ (Moonglow Magnolia), Malus 'Spring Snow' (Spring Snow Crabapple), Cornus kousa 'Milky Way' (Milky Way Dogwood)Cornus kousa ‘Venus’ (Venus Dogwood), Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia), Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk' (Ivory Silk Japanese Lilac)

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