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TREES & Plants

Chinese witch-hazel

In very early spring, before the leaves unfurl, Chinese witch-hazel has fragrant, spicy-scented deep yellow flowers with a tinge of red, crinkled like confetti. The new foliage is yellowish-green, deepening to medium green over the summer and turning yellow in fall.

Botanical name: 
Hamamelis mollis
All Common Names: 
Chinese witch-hazel, witch hazel, witch-hazel, witchhazel
Family (English): 
Witch hazel
Family (Botanic): 
Hamamelidaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Clay soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • Yellow
Size Range: 
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Arching
  • Round
  • Upright
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
Time of Year: 
  • Late winter
  • Early spring
  • Mid fall
More Information: 

Size and Form

10 to 15 feet high and wide; rounded form at maturity.

Tree & Plant Care

Keep well-watered as scorch can occur in hot summers.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious pests.
Scorch can be a problem in hot summers.
Leaves open early and can be damaged by spring frosts.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Resistant to black walnut toxicity.

Bark color and texture 

Relatively smooth, gray or gray-brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves; 3 to 6 inches long; nearly round with  broad teeth.
Medium green in summer; fall color yellow to yellow-orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Yellow flowers with 4 strap-like petals in late winter to very early spring; very fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Dry capsule; not ornamentally important.

Related species

Brevipetala witch-hazel (Hamamelis ‘Brevipetala’) : Yellow flowers with red coloring at the base of the petals.  Leaves tend to persist in winter. Upright form. This cultivar is considered a hybrid between Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis) and vernal witch-hazel (Hamamellis vernalis).