Content Detail

Chinese witch-hazel blooms in very early spring, before the leaves unfurl. The flowers are strap-like, crinkled and are a deep yellow with a tinge of red. They have a spicy-scented fragrance. The new foliage is yellowish-green, deepening to medium green over the summer and turning buttery yellow in fall.

  • Family (English) Witch hazel
  • Family (botanic) Hamamelidaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil
  • Season of interest late winter, early spring, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Yellow
  • Shape or form Arching, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and form:

Chinese witch-hazel grows 10 to 15 feet high and wide and has a rounded form at maturity.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to central China.

Bark color and texture:

Gray or gray-brown bark is relatively smooth..

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, alternate leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and nearly round with  broad teeth. Medium green colored in summer and yellow to yellow-orange in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Yellow flowers with four strap-like petals in late winter to very early spring that are very fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit is a dry capsule that is not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

Plant in full sun to part shade in moist, organic, well-drained soils. Roots benefit with a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures. Keep well-watered to prevent leaf scorch in hot summers.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances, and resistance:

No serious pests. Does not form leaf galls like American varieties. Leaf scorch can be a problem in hot summers. Leaves open early and can be damaged by spring frosts. Resistant to black walnut toxicity.

Brevipetala witch-hazel (Hamamelis ‘Brevipetala’):

This cultivar has yellow flowers with red coloring at the base of the petals. Leaves tend to persist in winter. Upright in form, this is considered a hybrid between Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis) and vernal witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis).


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