Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the black tree maintenance tags, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Family: Cercidiphyllaceae
Cercidiphyllum japonicum Siebond & Zucc. ex J.J.Hoffm. & J.H.Schult.bis

Black tag 362
54o 34.921N
5o 55.048W
This attractive deciduous tree comes from China and Japan. Sizeable examples are seldom seen in the UK, but they can grow to 45m. The genus name means "with leaves like Cercis". Cercis siliquastrum is known as the Judas tree, and has heart-shaped leaves and attractive pink flowers borne 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 dioecious and has rather insignificant flowers but is grown for its attractive Autumn colours. It has a most distinctive smell like caramel or burning sugar. This is most noticeable in Autumn and seems to emanate from the whole tree - it is not clear from smelling an individual leaf. It is sometimes called the toffee tree or toffee-apple tree on account of this. 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.

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