TREES & plants

Katsura tree

The katsura tree, native to Japan, makes an excellent specimen or shade tree in Midwestern landscapes. Its foliage offers an array of color throughout the year. In spring, heart-shaped leaves emerge reddish-purple, changing to blue-green as they mature. In autumn the color display changes again as leaves turn clear yellow or apricot color.


Botanical name: 
Cercidiphyllum japonicum
All Common Names: 
Katsura tree, katsuratree, katsura-tree, Japanese katsura
Family (English): 
Katsura tree
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
  • Fast
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Alkaline soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
  • Round
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
Time of Year: 
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
More Information: 

Size and Form

40 to 60 feet high and 25 to 30 feet wide; form at maturity may be pyramidal or more rounded

Tree & Plant Care

Spring planting is best to allow root development.  The Katsura tree is shallow-rooted and will benefit with a layer of mulch to maintain a cool root environment.  Additionally, this tree is drought-sensitive and should be watered in dry conditions.  

Disease, pests and problems

Leaf scorch is common in hot, dry sites.
No common serious pests.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China and Japan.

Bark color and texture

Bark is light gray and flaky to slightly shaggy.

Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum)Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum)photo: John Hagstrom

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite to sub-opposite leaf arrangement; simple,  2 to 4 inch, heart-shaped leaves emerge reddish, changing to a blue-green. Lear margin has rounded teeth.  Fall color is a clear yellow.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers on separate trees.  Both genders fairly inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small (3/4 inch) pods on female trees

Cultivars and their differences 

Weeping Katsura Tree  (Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’): 15 to 25 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide; weeping form