Cercidiphyllum japonicum Siebond & Zucc. ex J.J.Hoffm. & J.H.Schult.bis


Family: Cercidiphyllaceae
54º 34.921N
5º 55.048W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

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.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009 and 2010. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.