Gardening Magazine

Hamamelis Japonica

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Hamamelis japonica Flower (08/02/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Hamamelis japonica Flower (08/02/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Sun to dappled shade

Flowering period: Late winter to early spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 5m

Eventual Spread: 5m

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a

Family: Hamamelidaceae

Hamamelis japonica is a deciduous shrub with a spreading rounded habit. Its dark green leaves are ovate with loosely serrate undulating margins, up to 10cm long and 7cm broad. Its leaves turn yellow/ red/ purple in autumn before they fall. Its fragrant yellow flowers appear in clusters, have orange center and appear before its leaves. Its petals are ribbon like and up to 15mm long. The fruit is a two part capsule.

Hamamelis japonica, commonly known as Japanese Witch Hazel, is native to Japan. In its native habitat it grows in mountainous regions in thickets and forests. Hamamelis japonica is one of the parents of the Hamamelis x intermedia, the other being Hamamelis mollis. Subjective research has been carried out on the relative fragrance and leaf retention of various Hamamelis species and varieties by the curators of  Scott Arboretum, unfortunately the species in not on this list.

The etymological root of the binomial name Hamamelis is derived from the Greek amamelis ‘a tree with pear like fruits’. Japonica is derived from the Latin meaning ‘from Japan’.

Hamamelis japonica (08/02/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Hamamelis japonica (08/02/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Hamamelis japonica useful as a winter flowering shrub with fragrant flowers and attractive autumn leaf color.

Ecologically,  Hamamelis japonica flowers are attractive to members of the Lepidoptera family which includes butterflies and moths.

Hamamelis japonica prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers neutral to acidic soils.

Hamamelis japonica requires little maintenance. Necessary pruning should be carried out in spring after flowering.

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