Tree Care Tree of the Week Tree Planting

Katsura: The Tree on the Moon

By Sheereen Othman | October 14, 2015

(Cercidiphyllum japonicum)

1024px-Cercidiphyllum_japonicum_JPG01bHave you ever noticed the shadow on the moon? Ancient Chinese and Japanese folklore says that the shadow on the moon was created when a man being punished by the gods was sentenced to cut down a giant Katsura tree on the moon. The shadow is said to belong to the magic Katsura tree which can’t be cut down. As for the man, he is trapped on the moon forever.

Although the Katsura is not native to North America, it has grown in popularity for its appealing characteristics. It isn’t susceptible to many pests, and requires little care. Additionally, the tree emits a caramelized sugar scent in the fall. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

Here’s a few things to note if you’re considering adding a Katsura tree to your yard.

Environmental conditions:

  • Katsura trees grow well in acidic, loamy, clay and well-drained soil (hardiness zones 4-8). It is not drought tolerant, so water regularly.
  •  Medium growing tree, growing 1-2 feet a year and reaching 40-60 feet at maturity.
  • Has a shallow root system and some of the roots can grow to six inches in diameter or more above the soil. Does not do well in compact soil. Add mulch around the tree to maintain a cool root environment.
  • Tree grows in partial sun and full sun.

Physical Attributes:

  • Doesn’t have any showy flowers, but displays vibrant fall foliage with shades of crimson and yellow.
  • Relative of magnolia and tulip trees, producing heart-shaped leaves.
  • Releases sweet sugar smell in the fall, resembling brown-sugar or cotton candy.

Tag us in a picture of your Katsura tree!

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