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 drop its leaves. Leaf regrowth may occur once water is available again.
The leaves of the Katsura Tree emerge in the spring tinged with red and purple and then 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. This tree 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 its 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.
Katsura trees can be fussy about soil conditions – they prefer rich, moist, acidic soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location.
Height: 40-60 ft.
Width: 25-60 ft.
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 to Part Shade
Watering: Moderate & Regular water - keep soil moist
Soil: Rich, acidic soils; tolerates clay soil
Growth Rate: Fast
USDA Zones: 4-8
Uses: Shade tree, lawn tree
Similar Trees: Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)