Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens is compiled by members of the Friends group and Gardens staff. We aim to build up to a comprehensive archive of trees in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Each article illustrates a tree growing in Belfast Botanic Gardens together with information from a range of sources. Where possible we will give the tree tag number - these are the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Katsura

Tag -
54deg 34.921N
5deg 55.048W
This attractive deciduous tree comes from China and Japan. They are seldom seen of great size in the UK, but can grow to 45m. The genus name means "with leaves like Cercis". Cercis siliquastrum is the Judas tree with heart-shaped leaves and attractive pink flowers born directly on the old stem wood. C. japonicum is the single species in the genus and the genus is the only one in the family Cercidiphyllaceae. It is diocious and has rather insignificant flowers but is grown for its attractive Autumn colours. It also has a most distinctive smell like caramel or burning sugar. It is sometimes called the toffee tree or toffee-apple tree on account of the smell. This is most noticeable in Autumn and seems to emanate from the whole tree - it is not clear from smelling an individual leaf. The young tree in Belfast Botanic Gardens has not yet started to flower.
Katsura tree in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Katsura leaves

Cercidiphyllum in Belfast Botanic Gardens Leaves of Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Katsura leaf detail  leaf of Cercis
Leaf detail of Cercidiphyllum japonicum Leaves of Cercis siliquastrum for comparison
Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009 and 2010. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

Click here to view the rest of the tree archive