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.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Wet sites,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Spring blossoms,
- Fall color
Seasons of Interest:
- early fall,
- mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators
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.
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.
Weeping Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’): 15 to 25 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide; weeping form.
Red Fox Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Rot fuchs'): An upright oval reaching 30 feet high and 16 feet wide; bronze purple spring foliage turning bronze-green in summer. Fall color is orange-bronze.