Thursday, July 1, 2010


A small genus of 24 species of deciduous or evergreen, shrubs and trees native to eastern Asia. Once considered related to the Dogwoods, Alangium is now in a plant family all by itself. In ancient times, this plant family was much more widespread, the evidence being fossils found in Europe and western North America.
Propagation is from seed sown immediately after removing the flesh covering.

Alangium chinense ( Chinese Alangium )
A medium size, evergreen tree native to India and central China to Japan.
It is similar to but larger growing than Alangium platanifolia.
Some records include: 11 years - 33 feet with a trunk diameter of 5.5 inches; largest on record - 82 feet.
The leathery, heart-shaped leaves are up to 12 x 7 inches, are luxuriant mid-green. The leaves are usually smooth edged but can also be toothed or even lobed.
The small, white, late spring flowers are followed by purple or black drupes in September and October.
The bark is gray.
Hardy zones 7 to 12

Alangium kurzii
Similar to Alangium platanifolia below but with in rolled leaf margins; it is a very beautiful, small understory tree that is native to India, south and central China and the Phillipensis. Excellent for planting beneath of groves of tall conifers ( esp. Hemlocks & Firs ).
The foliage is very glossy, bright green in color.
Hardy zones 7 to 9 ( 6 on protected sites ) in partial to full shade on moist, fertile, light soils.

Alangium platanifolia ( Sycamore Alangium )
A very attractive deciduous small tree to 20 feet, native to woodlands in Korea and Japan with crooked branches and a spreading habit. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3 feet; 22 years - 27 feet with a trunk diameter of 5 inches; largest on record - 50 x 17 feet.
The 3 or 5 palmately shallowly-lobed leaves resemble that of the Platanus Sycamores. The thick, deep green foliage turns to intense yellow before falling gradually during autumn. They are up to 9 x 6 inches or rarely 12 x 8 inches in size and the stalks ( up to 3 inches in length ) and main veins are coral-red. The strongly veined leaves are arranged spirally around the twig.
The fragrant, small, white, bell-shaped flowers, up to an inch, are borne in loose hanging clusters during late spring.
They are followed by dark violet or blue fruits, up to 0.7 inches long, that provide an amazing contrast to the golden-yellow autumn foliage.
The twigs zig-zag. The smooth bark is light brown.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, light, fertile, well drained soils. Tolerant of heat and drought but does appreciate a site with some wind protection. Easy to grow, it is virtually immune to pests and diseases.

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

Alangium villosum ( Muskwood )
A slow growing, spreading, medium-sized tree native to rainforests of southeast Asia and eastern Australia. It can reach a maximum size of 70 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 3 feet.
The smooth-edged, oblong or elliptical leaves are up to 6 x 2 inches in size.
The white to pale yellow flowers, up to 0.1 inches, are borne 3 to 5 in axilliary cymes, up to 0.8 inches in length, during late spring to early summer.
They are followed by a blackish drupe, up to 1 inch in length.
The grayish-brown bark is marked with lenticels. Older trees have a buttressed trunk.
Hardy zones 9 to 12 in full sun or partial shade on a moist site protected from wind. It is often found as an understory tree in the wild.

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