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Cercidiphyllum – the sweet-scented tree that comes from the East


Cercidiphyllum is a  smallish tree that comes from Japan. It definitely lends a distinctive Asian touch to any garden.

Core Cercidiphyllum facts

NameCercidiphyllum japonicum
and Cercidiphyllum magnificum
Common nameskatsura, caramel tree

Type – medium-sized tree
Height – 16-50 feet (5-15 m)
Exposure – full sun and part sun
Soil – rich is better

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – none
UseJapanese garden, bonsai

Simple guidelines for planting, care and pruning are only the beginning: discover the varieties and yummy tidbits that this species has in store for you!

Planting Cercidiphyllum

  • Preferably in fall. This allows for root development during winter.
  • Follow our advice on planting trees.

Key takeaways for proper planting include exposure and soil.

Proper exposure for Cercidiphyllum

Cercidiphyllum is happiest with a reasonable amount of light.

  • In temperate climates, this usually means full sun.
  • In tropical climates, this means part shade, under a larger tree.

Soil best suited for Cercidiphyllum

This is one of the easiest plants to satisfy.

  • All it needs is rich soil that is not too subject to drought.

It can take on both acidic and alkaline soil, wet & waterlogged soil, and even salty soil. Heavy clay soil isn’t a problem, either.

Pruning Cercidiphyllum

  • Planting and care for cercidiphyllumIt isn’t necessary to prune it.
  • It naturally branches out into a harmonious silhouette.

You may, if needed, reduce the size of the shrub or to balance growth in spring.

  • When pruning, go ahead and collect cuttings to root them. This will give you many new seedlings that are identical in beauty to the original!

Multiplying Cercidiphyllum

Cercidiphyllum is a plant that can be multiplied in various ways.

From most successful to least successful, here are the techniques that work best:

  • Seed propagation for cercidiphyllum
  • Cercidiphyllum layering
  • Cuttings prepared from cercidiphyllum

Find these methods described in this article: how to multiply cercidiphyllum.

Note that this is a dioecious plant. This means each tree is either male OR female, but not both. It isn’t self-fertile.

  • To have seeds, you’d need one of each within the same neighborhood.
  • Seeds would only appear on a female tree.

Remarkable Cercidiphyllum varieties

Actually, Cercidiphyllum is a small family (or genus, to be specific). Only two species are attached to it.

The more common one is Cercidiphyllym japonicum.

  • It is the one most sold in nurseries across the planet.

However, the rarer Cercidiphyllum magnificum is also quite a stunner.

All the Cercidiphyllum varieties that are more or less easy to find: Cercidiphyllum varieties

All there is to know about Cercidiphyllum

Landscaping use of a weeping cercidiphyllumCercidiphyllum is native to Asia. It is considered a tree that grows quickly.

  • Fall is when it is clearly the most spectacular with fire-like hues of yellow, orange and red. As leaves break off, they release scented compounds that smell like caramel.

During the rest of the year, it bears cute tender green leaves and just before leaf appearance, a very light blooming.

In winter, it stays attractive thanks to its bark. Furrows form as the tree ages in a up-and-down pattern that draws attention and is appealingly regular.

Smart tip about Cercidiphyllum, the caramel tree

Mulch is always recommended to retain soil moisture in summer and protect from the cold in winter.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: coniferconifer, Wendy Cutler
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