Content Detail

Japanese kerria is a lovely 4 to 6 feet high shrub with upright to finely textured arching stems. Plants are especially attractive when their abundant, bright yellow flowers open in the spring.  The bright green, arched stems add winter interest in a naturalized garden and it is an excellent choice for perennial shade borders. A destructive stem blight has infected this plant and is making Japanese kerria more difficult to find in the nursery trade.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil
  • Season of interest midwinter, late winter, mid spring, late spring, early summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Arching, Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size & Form:

A 3 to 6 feet high and wide deciduous shrub. Green stems are upright and arching and produce many fine, slender, zig-zag twigs. Plants sucker freely and form large colonies.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to China and Japan.

Attracts birds & butterflies:

Flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Bark color and texture:

The bright green, arched stems stay green all year. Young stems are zig-zag and offer winter interest.

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

Leaves are simple, alternate, 2 to 4 inches long, and ovate to lance-shaped. Leaf margins are doubly serrated. Their bright green color changes to lemon yellow in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers on old and new wood in late April and May. Blooms are showy five-petaled, bright yellow flowers about 1 1/2 inches across and are borne singly. Blooms sporadically throughout the summer.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is not ornamentally significant.  

Plant care:

Japanese kerria is best grown in partial shade in a well-drained, moist, organic rich, loamy soil. When grown in full sun, the flowers bleach out. Avoid over-fertilizing as this will promote too much leaf growth and reduce flowering. Prune out dead tips each spring and remove diseased stems. Overgrown plants can be rejuvenated by cutting plants to the ground after flowering. 


List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Stems and leaves are susceptible to phomopsis stem blight and septoria leaf disease. Stem tips can die back in harsh winters.

Golden Guinea Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Golden Guinea’):

This cultivar Is notable for the large 2 inch wide flowers that bloom for a long period.

Picta Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Picta’):  

This is a  variegated form with single yellow flowers.

Pleniflora Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’, syn. ‘Flora Pleno’):

A shrubby cultivar that reaches 4 to 5 feet high and 6 to 9 feet wide. Flowers well in dense shade or full sun with golden yellow, double flowering, ball-shaped blooms.


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