The Caramel tree is so named because the autumn leaves are said to have a scent of caramel. It is a medium-sized deciduous tree native to Japan and China that is widely grown as a street tree a park tree and a specimen tree. It has attractive, mid green, heart shaped leaves and fine autumn coloration. Cercidiphyllum japonicum, commonly called katsura tree, is native to Japan and China. It is a single or multi-trunked, understory tree with a dense, rounded habit that typically matures to 40-60’ tall in cultivation, but can reach 100’ or more in the wild. It is grown for its beautiful shape and its attractive foliage. Cordate, round-oval leaves (to 4” long) resemble those of a small redbud (Cercis is the redbud genus and phyllon is Greek for leaf). Leaves emerge reddish purple in spring, mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinge in summer and turn quality shades of gold, orange and red in fall. Although not aromatic, the fallen autumn leaves have been varyingly described as smelling of cinnamon, burnt sugar or ripe apples. Tiny flowers (red on male trees and green on female trees) appear in spring before the foliage but are not particularly showy. Pollinated flowers on female trees are followed by clusters of greenish pods (to 3/4” long).
Best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates full sun, but has little tolerance for drought particularly when young. Best sited in a location protected from strong winds and hot afternoon sun. This is a dioecious tree (male and female flowers on separate trees). Small specimen shade tree or street tree. Hardy in zones 4-8.
Growing Instructions for the Katsura Tree
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet. 2. Mix the seeds with a small quantity of sand. 3. Spread the mixture evenly on the growing medium. Press into the surface of the growing medium. 4. Water the seeds. 5. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. The seeds will germinate in 10-20 days at about 70 degrees F. 6. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.