30 August 2011
Cercidiphyllum japonicum – Cercidiphyllaceae
Tir na nOg / Lily Wood
One of the first trees to offer any promise of autumn colour is the Katsura Tree – Warm orange and yellow and a fine toffee scent to its foliage. Grown in the UK since 1881, this huge tree, (reaching 130ft/40m), in the wild is considered totally hardy. The best specimen I have ever found is up at Sizergh Castle (NT) in the Lake District. It can however, suffer from late frosts, but if it is nipped back, it will send out a new batch of leaves. On the 2000 Red List, but at lower risk, The Katsura is a rare tree in the temperate Beech forests of Japan and even more rare in the broad-leaved woodland of China. It is found either in full sun or dappled shade in rich, but well drained soils of neutral or acid pH. It will tolerate some lime, but will not colour so well in autumn.
Katsura timber is prized in Japan and this and the fact that it regenerates poorly in its natural habitat has caused it to decline. The height of its range was back in the Tertiary period.
In the spring, the young leaves emerge red and rapidly fade to green. The round, toothed leaves are grey green beneath and tiny red flowers accompany the unfurling leaves. Seed is the best method of propagation.
Find out more about the Katsura Tree by clicking here