Monday, May 10, 2010

Euscaphis - Sweetheart Tree

Euscaphis japonica
Native to China and Japan; this is the lone tree in the Euscaphis family however part of the larger Staphyleaceae genus of plants. It is a moderate to fast growing small tree to about 25 feet on average though faster and larger on good sites. Some records include: fastest rate - 3.5 feet; 2nd year - 4 feet ( heavily fertilized container grown trees ); largest ever recorded - 40 x 30 feet.
The attractive pinnate leaves up to 10 inches long are composed of 7 to 11 finely toothed leaflets up to 4 x 1.5 inches ( rarely 6 x 2.5 inches ) in size. The leathery, glossy deep green foliage turns to purple during autumn.
The late spring flowers are panicles up to 5 or rarely 12 inches long that are long stalked and composed of up to 5 tiny yellow-white blooms that are up to 0.3 inches across.
The autumn fruits are showy deep red, leathery, heart-shape pods that split to reveal shiny deep blue pods.
The bark is purple-brown and striated with white.
Prefers medium light to sandy loam soils in sun to partial shade. It is not very drought tolerant however is very heat tolerant and is actually more hardy in the eastern U.S. than it is in western Europe. In the U.S. it is hardy in zones 6 through 8 while in England it only grows in the warmest areas in the south. The Sweetheart Tree is somewhat tolerant of flooding and is not generally bothered by pests or disease. While propagation can be from green wood cuttings under glass it is generally grown from seed. There are no named cultivars however this beautiful small tree is hard to improve on. Propagation is seed sown in summer. Treatment for seed is soaking in water, let stand in water for 24 hours. As a tree for small yards and patios in the eastern U.S. and bordering Ontario; I give this tree a 10 / 10 on ornamental value!

* photos taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

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

* photo taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, PA

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


  1. Thank you Randy!
    I volunteer at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Belmont NC. We meet weds am, and help the horticultural crew.
    I had noticed this tree at the garden, and collected some seeds.
    Now I know how to grow them! wish me luck.
    Jim Biscardi

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  3. My B&T seeds, sown a couple of years back, have suffered the vagaries of the UK climate with minimal protection and I’m pleased to say I’ve had a fair few germinations. They seem very sporadic, but the remaining seeds have been left in to suffer a bit more. The very shiny seed coat gradually erodes over time, which is probably a good sign. The seedlings i have though are behaving oddly. They seem reluctant to form a good root system and the resulting foliage is quite chlorotic. Some deficiency or other. I’m open to suggestions on how to get them growing vigorously. The seedlings have been in a frost-free greenhouse throughout.