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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cercidiphyllum japonicum - Katsura Tree

The katsura tree is a really nice tree although I am not convinced it will grow well here. There is only one planting that I am aware of and the trees look to be in fair condition. They tend to lose foliage when drought stressed. Anyway, they are a medium to large tree (40-60') with a pyramidal habit in youth but becoming more wide spreading or oval shape with age. Around here they are likely to be in the 30' range. 

On younger trees the lateral branches tend to be held horizontal to the main stem and the branching on that stem tends to be flat creating a very nicely layered habit.

Also, the foliage has an interesting smell of cotton candy in the fall.

This is an awesome example located at Dumbarton Oaks in Maryland. 

 Here is a an alle at a community college in Oregon.

Leaves are sub-opposite  (well almost, most of the time, see below), almost round with lightly crenated margins. They are bluish green on the upper surface and lighter below. Petioles are often red. Leaves emerge with a slight cast of purple in the spring. They are also considered to be dimorphic, that is they have two forms on the same tree. If you look at the images below comparing Cercis and Cercidiphyllum you will see both types. On young elongating stems they look more ovate to elliptical while on the spurs they the look more rounded.

The leaf arrangement is a fun one. Usually called sub-opposite which is sort of less than opposite. Meaning that they are not exactly opposite but not uniformly alternating up the stems. In this image you can see the leaves are sub-opposite.  These three images are all from one plant.

Then this one, especially the center stem is very alternate, 

 Then this one, which I had never seen before today, they are whorled, 3 per node.

Leaves are sort similar to red bud. (Cercidiphyllum means Cercis like). But not really. The Cercis is on the top, alternate arrangement, entire margins and different vein pattern. Elliptical to ovate leaf form in the upper image and one from a spur in the second one.

Again, Cercis on the top.

Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Not very showy.

Small pods produced on female plants.

Slender twigs with very distinct spurs where a single leaf is produced each year. The significance of this is that old twigs appear to have a pair leaves on them when they should not. This has been difficult for me to photograph. Older stems do not produce new leaves every year but if you look at the tree, the primary and secondary scaffold branches have leaves on them, two at each node. Makes for a very full canopy.

Bark is great.

Fall color is fantastic. This was in our yard in Spokane.

Several cultivars are available. 'Pendulum' is a common weeping variety. The RHS considers these to be a botanical forma, pendulum. Regardless, I have seen one of these in Seascape area. Address is below.

'Red Fox' is a new one that I have in a pot. The leaves are very purple in the spring, and staying pretty good most of the summer. You are not likely to see this unless you are at my house.

Misidentification: Cercis is about it, and I hope to have detailed the differences above. Leaf arrangement and shape as well as the margins of the leaves.

Aptos : There is a young weeper in seacliff area, 421 Hillcrest Dr. (Gone)

Soquel: 3003 Fairway Dr has a nice specimen in front.

Santa Cruz: Locust St. Just outside the Staff entrance to the Library, about halfway down the street. There are 10 of them.

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