fbpx Chinese witch-hazel | The Morton Arboretum

Chinese witch-hazel

Leaves of Chinese witch-hazel.

In very early spring, before the leaves unfurl, Chinese witch-hazel blooms a deep yellow with a tinge of red on strap-like, crinkled flowers. Flowers have a spicy-scented fragrance. The new foliage is yellowish-green, deepening to medium green over the summer and turning buttery 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

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • late winter,
  • early spring,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • Yellow

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Round,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size and Form

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

Tree & Plant Care

Full sun to part shade in moist, organic, well-drained soils.
Roots benefit with a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures.
Keep well-watered to prevent leaf scorch in hot summers.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious pests. Does not form leaf galls like American varieties.
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.

Native geographic location and habitat

Central China

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).


Location of Hamamelis mollis (Chinese witch-hazel) at the Arboretum