As I was picking out some plants for a client at Flower World, a strong gust of wind brought in a warm, sweet scent of burnt sugar. Caramels, cotton candy, butterscotch – I wanted them all. I looked around and saw a row of my favorite Katsura trees growing at the edge of the nursery. With a smile on my face, I took in a nice, deep breath and slowly savored the moment. It was the magic of the Katsura! The secret – the tantalizing scent produced by its colorful leaves in fall is identical to that of cotton candy.
As the days grow shorter and nights become colder, one of first trees to change color in our zone is the Katsura tree. The heart shaped, blue-green leaves change into a unique blend of colors ranging from soft yellow to deep oranges and fiery reds. The aroma of these leaves simply intensifies on a dry, windy day.
Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is typically multi-stemmed and a very easy-to-care-for tree. It is fast growing and can grow up to 20’ in about 10 years. Plant it in a sunny location, in well-drained soil. It prefers regular watering, especially in the summer. Note that it will drop its green leaves during prolonged periods of drought. Use it in your landscape for shade, for privacy or for just its magical fall leaves.