Katsura Tree

Botanical Name: Cercidiphyllum japonicum

The Katsura Tree or Cercidiphyllum japonicum is grown as an ornamental tree for its delicate blue-green, heart-shaped leaves and bright autumn color. Under ideal conditions the Katsura Tree grows fast, but it’s important to maintain consistent soil moisture, as it is very sensitive to drought. Under drought conditions the species will abscise (drop) its leaves. Refoliation or leaf regrowth may occur once water is available again. 

The leaves of Cercidiphyllum japonicum emerge in the spring tinged with red and purple. The leaves mature to their typical, striking blue-green color. Their autumn display is spectacular with shades of yellow and apricot orange. The Katsura Tree develops an interesting, sweet scent in the fall, when the leaves smell like cotton candy or burnt brown sugar. Cercidiphyllum japonicum has coarse roots, which are best grown in fabric containers or air root-pruning containers, as stock grown in fields will need to have frequent root pruning.

The juvenile Katsura Tree grows in the shape of an oval, but it’s form will become more upright as it ages. It will also spread wider, making a good shade tree for moderate-sized landscapes. Male trees are more upright, and female trees are wider.  

Cercidiphyllum japonicum can be fussy about soil conditions – they prefer rich, moist, acidic soils. The tree is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location.

Category:

Height: 40-60’

Width: 25-60’

Shape: Oval/Pyramidal, developing more upright with age.

Flower Color: Reddish-green

Flowering time: March-April

Fall Color: Bright yellow, pink, and orange-red

Features:  Attractive foliage and bright fall color

Exposure: Full Sun - Part Shade

Watering:  Moderate & Regular water - keep soil moist

Soil: Rich, acidic soils, tolerates clay soil

Growth Rate: Fast

USDA Zone: 4-8

Uses: Shade tree, lawn tree

Similar trees: Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)