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Woody > Hamamelis > Hamamelis japonica > Hamamelis japonica

Hamamelis japonica

Japanese Witchhazel

Origin:  Japan.
Tree (deciduous), Shrub (deciduous)
USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 8
Canadian Hardiness Zone
4 - 6
RHS Hardiness Zone
H5- H7
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
4-10 m
3-4 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Hardy shrub significant for its delicate flowers which bloom in February. It is also appreciated for it autumn coloured leaves and winter bud interest which adds colour to landscapes. Requires full sun to part shade. Low maintenance.
Used as a hedges in woodland gardens or as a background shrub. Often placed among evergreens to showcase its early blooms.
Prefer moist and rich soil that has good drainage although they will tolerate somewhat clay soils. It is a good idea to keep a layer of light mulch around the plants during all seasons to ensure they are receiving enough moisture.
Short, inverted triangle and mound shape.
ID Characteristic
Ornamental shrub with a somewhat flat top and inverted triangle-like shape. It appears quite delicate due to the fact that its branches are spread out making it somewhat transparent. Flowers are paper thin and bell shaped.
None of serious concern. Japanese beetles can occasionally eat the leaves. Insect galls, scale and leaf rollers might target a plant but none of these will fatally affect this plant. Can become subject to rot, leaf spot and powdery mildew.
Are found growing in high altitude, woodland, primarily evergreen populated areas.
Bark/Stem Description
Consistently smooth and ash grey in colour. Stems are slender. Orange lenticels are present.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Terminal bud has 2-3 scales and can be up to 2 cm long. Ovoid shape 0.5 cm long along branches and deep ash brown in colour. Petioles appear wirey.
Leaf Description
Ovate, alternate and simple. 5-10 cm long and 2-3 cm wide. Veins are pinnate. Cordate base, serrate margins and acute apices. Young leaves are highly pubescent on their lower side but become glabrous once they have reached maturity. Medium to dark green in colour.
Flower Description
Showy, confetti-like, bright to pale yellow flowers with purple hues along their base. Slightly scented. 4 petals, star-shaped and lightly crinkled. 1.5 cm long with a narrow width. Calyx is green to yellow to red in colour.
Fruit Description
Woody fruit capsule with double valve containing two small black seeds per fruit. Wood splits when ready to disperse seeds.
Colour Description
Leaves provide autumn colour including yellow, orange and red hues. Otherwise they are a deep/medium green. Bark colour remains the same.
Texture Description
Fine texture throughout the year.
Notable Specimens
Forest Botanic Garden in Charlottenlund.
Softwood cuttings must be placed in rich free draining compost soil (specifically for cuttings in late spring). Propagation habitat must be covered for protection using a polythene tent to create humidity and a base temperature of 20°C must be maintained. Rooting takes 6 to 8 weeks.
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
Roots and bark are valued for a wide range of medicinal properties. These include: mental issues such as depression or physical issues caused by overactive blood circulation such as varicose veins. It can be placed in tea or applied as a pulp paste. In Japan the trees malleable branches have traditionally been used to hold wooden structures together for rafts and houses.