Trees We Love – Japanese stewartia

Japanese stewartia

(Stewartia pseudocamellia)

Full-Season Performance

Stewartia seed headThe Japanese stewartia is a small to medium sized, flowering, deciduous tree. This slow growing tree reaches 25′ to 30′ tall and 15′ to 20′ wide. The Japanese stewartia  displays white camellia-like flowers later in the season than most other flowering trees. In autumn, the foliage display is unforgettable.  The dark green leaves may turn beautiful shades of yellow, red to dark reddish purple in fall.Japanese stweartia bark

The bark is also amazing. As the bark peels it exposes contrasting colors of cream, tan and grey.

In winter, the unusual branching pattern adds character to any winter garden.

The Japanese stewartia makes a lovely patio tree where it’s beautiful flowers and bark can be viewed up close. Planted 15′ apart, on either side of a walkway, the Japanese stewartia creates a full-season covered walkway. The Japanese stewartia also works well in large container plantings.

Key Features

Honeybee enjoying the Stewartia.

Honeybee enjoying the Stewartia.

  • Year-round interest
  • Deciduous tree
  • Cold Hardiness Zones 5B- 8
  • Partial to full sun
  • Needs evenly moist soil
  • Slow growing to 30 ft. tall, 20 ft. wide.
  • White Flower; blooms in Summer
  • Spectacular yellow/red fall foliage
  • Unusual peeling bark
  • Multi-stem or single trunk

Japanese stewartia foliageDesign Ideas

The Japanese stewartia is an exceptional tree and makes a wonderful focal point in a garden.  Consider surrounding this tree with a dark evergreen groundcover to highlight it’s flowers and bark.  Small compact flowering and evergreen shrubs can be added for additional layers, interest and depth.


Historical Background

A native of Japan, the Japanese stewartia is a member of the tea family.  The tea family of trees and shrubs  are related to camellias. Stewartia contains six species of shrubs and small trees all native to Asia and North America.

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