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): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • 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 direct light daily)
  • Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
  • 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
  • Rounded
  • 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.

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).