T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cercidiphyllum magnificum (Katsura)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Cercidiphyllaceae
Genus: Cercidiphyllum (two species C. magnificum & C. japonicum
Species: Cercidiphyllum magnificum
Common names: Katsura,

Katsura Tree is a endemic to central Honshu. Cercidiphyllum magnificum is much smaller than C. japonicum, rarely reaching over 10 m in height. Cercidiphyllum producesspurs along its twigs. These are short stems with closely spaced leaves.
The foliage is dimorphic. Short shoots bear broadly cordate or reniform, palmately veined leaves with crenate margins; long shoots bear elliptic to broadly ovate leaves with entire or finely serrate margins. Leaves are up to 8 cm long and 5.5 cm broad; stipules persistent.  The delicate light green heart shaped leaves in autumn turn a colour mix of bright yellow, pink and orange-red.
The bark smooth.
This genus is dioecious, having separate male and female trees.
The small inconspicuous flowers are produced in early spring and wind-pollinated; the fruit is a cluster of 2-4 small pods, each pod 1-2 cm long with numerous small flattened seeds winged at both ends. The fruits mature in autumn and release their seeds in autumn through winter.
In the autumn, the leaves create an effect that is highly unusual for trees. As the leaves begin to turn colour for the autumn season, they release an aroma that many say is like that of cotton candy, caramel, or brown sugar.

The wood of the Katsura is soft and very light. Some describe it as a white wood. Because of the lack of strength, it is not used in the framework of houses. Instead it is used to build cabinets and to create some of the most beautiful paneling.

Top surface of a leaf


Underside of leaf


Trunk of young tree

Trunk of mature tree