Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happiness Tree

Camptotheca acuminata

Related to the Tupelos ( Nyssa ) there is only one kind of Campotheca; and this is it. A handsome, rare deciduous tree native to Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in China; this tree is fast growing and can reach 50 feet or more. Some records include: fastest growth rate - 6 feet; 15 years - 33 + feet; largest tree on record - 100 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet ( I suspect much larger is possible in the hot humid southeast U.S. as existing trees need much more time to mature ).
The foliage adds a tropical appearance to the garden as it is large and lush and also heavily veined. The leaves, purplish at first turning to very shiny deep green, reach up to 12 x 5 inches in size.
The tiny creamy white flowers are borne in rounded heads on branches flower stems during the summer.
It requires moist, deep, rich, very acidic, light soil, shelter from strong winds and prefers warm humid climates with hot summers. This tree is only moderately drought tolerant but should grow well on irrigated lawns and landscapes, especially if mulched. It has grown well in the U.S. at the U.S. National Arboretum in zone 7. It apparently also grows in the much cooler summers in the Pacific Northwest as it is sold by Piroche Plants in British Columbia. I have not come across any records of it having been grown in Europe though it may be possible. Young trees should be pruned lightly in order to shape. Hardy zones 7 to 11 and propagation is from seed soaked in water for 24 hours than cold stratified for 1 month before sowing 0.4 inches deep. Smaller sized container plants transplant easily, larger sized or field dug plants would probably transplant poorly.
A cancer treating drug called Topotecan is produced from Camptothecin which is extracted from the bark.
Sometimes planted as a street tree in China and should be tested more in the U.S.

* photo taken on May 1 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on July 4 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, DC

* photo taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

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