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Cercidiphyllum japonicum - Siebold.&Zucc.

Common Name Katsura Tree
Family Cercidiphyllaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Grows in woodlands in Japan but in China it is mainly found in open situations in rich moist soils at 1600 - 2800 metres[109].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cercidiphyllum japonicum Katsura Tree
Cercidiphyllum japonicum Katsura Tree


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Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Pyramidal, Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Cercidiphyllum japonicum is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in August. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

None known


Medicinal Uses

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None known


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Other Uses


Wood - light, soft, not strong, fine grained. It is a highly valued timber and is used for furniture, the interior finishes of buildings, boxes etc[11, 46, 61].

Special Uses

Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Aggressive surface roots possible, Specimen, Street tree. Prefers a moist woodland soil in a position free from spring frosts[1, 200]. Tolerates some lime but it is probably best in an acidic soil[200]. Dislikes dry soils[200]. Succeeds in full sun or semi-shade[188]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -20°c, but it prefers a continental climate and can be excited into premature growth in the mild maritime climate of Britain when the young growth is then very susceptible to frost damage[11, 188, 200]. There is usually no lasting harm from this damage[188]. Rarely more than a bush in much of Britain according to one report[1] whilst another says that there are trees 18 metres tall in W. Britain[11]. A fast growing tree, it tends to grow with a number of stems[200]. Plants produce richer autumn colours when grown on acid soils, the fallen leaves smell like burnt toffee[188]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features:Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. Sow stored seed in a greenhouse in late winter[78]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in autumn. Takes 12 months. High percentage[78]. Basal cuttings, 15cm long, taken from May to July[200]. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

   Fri Jul 8 16:58:27 2005

Katsura is commonly used for making Go Boards in Japan.

Alan Merryweather   Fri Jun 27 2008

At the property where I'm now house-sitting in Gloucestershire, a cercidiphyllum (variety unknown)is giving off a strong aroma of burnt suger even though the leaves are nowhere near ready to die off. The tree forms part of a glade of trees overhanging a shady border and I've not noticed it smelling so strongly the early in the year before.

Luke Harding   Tue Jan 13 2009

Interesting comment about rarely achieving more than shrub size. There are quite a few in the grounds of the place I work and they are all good sized trees. The only examples we have that could be called shrubs are a variety known as Cercidiphyllum japonicum Magnificum.

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