Styrax japonicus

Japanese Snowbell




  • native to China , Japan, and Korea
  • zone 6, and warmer parts of 5

Habit and Form

  • 20' to 30' tall deciduous flowering tree
  • develops a broad, flat-topped canopy with maturity
  • at least as wide as tall
  • branching is horizontal
  • usually single-trunked
  • fine, dainty texture

Summer Foliage

  • simple leaves in an alternate arrangement
  • 1" to 3.5" long 0.5" to 1.5" wide
  • ovate to elliptic
  • acute tip
  • color is dark, lustrous green

Autumn Foliage

  • yellow, often with a reddish cast
  • can be reasonable showy
  • colors up late and freezes often hit before good color develops


  • blooms end of May into June
  • white blooms hang below the foliage
  • flowers are 0.75" wide
  • flowers are 5-lobed with yellow stamens
  • borne in groups of 3 to 6


  • dry - rounded drupes
  • not highly ornamental


  • gray brown; smooth
  • orange brown color shows in shallow fissures
  • attractive
  • trunk is somewhat fluted and sinewy


  • full sun to partial shade
  • needs a moist, well-drained, acidic soil
  • avoid difficult site

Landscape Use

  • specimen
  • patio tree
  • situate so the blooms can be observed close up
  • works well in small groupings
  • very showy and desirable


  • lack of cold hardiness can be a problem in the colder parts of its useful range
  • bark splitting
  • ambrosia beetle
  • a delicate plant that can thrive for several years and die abruptly

ID Features

  • pendulous flowers below the foliage
  • smooth gray bark
  • naked buds
  • horizontal branching on older trees


  • by cuttings
  • by seed, but there is a double dormancy


'Angyo Dwarf' - This is a standard grower with dwarf habit, to only 10' tall. The flowers and other features are similar to the species.

'Carillon' (also spelled 'Carilon', probably the same as 'Pendula') - One of the prettiest weeping flowering trees, this plant is more graceful than grafted weeping cherries and other common ornamentals. The branches droop gracefully and the stems can become quite thick, leading to a natural bonsai effect. The plant reaches 12' in many years, with leaves and flowers as per the species. The floral show is not as profuse as the standard species.

'Crystal' - The habit of this strong-growing plant is more upright-fastigiate, with healthy dark green foliage and flowers that dangle from purplish stems (pedicels).

'Emerald Pagoda' (also known as 'Sohuksan') - A special selection of the species that is gradually becoming more widely grown, this cultivar is a superior ornamental plant. The flowers are larger than the species, with thicker petals. The leaves are also more robust, with a leathery texture and richer green coloration. No mature plants exist yet, but in youth the plant has shown an upright-pyramidal habit.

'Pink Chimes' - Considered superior to 'Rosea', this pink-flowered form forms a small tree displaying light pink blooms that do not fade and are slightly fragrant. It is offered by specialty nurseries.

'Rosea' - This is a pink-flowered variant.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.