Xanthoceras sorbifolium

21 Sep

Xanthoceras sorbifolium (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Xanthoceras sorbifolium (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 5m

Eventual Spread: 5m

Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Family: Sapindaceae

Xanthoceras sorbifolium is a deciduous shrub to small tree with a rounded crown. Its mid green leaves are pinnate up to 30cm long and 12cm across. Its leaflets are ovate with serrate margins, up to 6cm long and 2cm across. Its leaves become yellow before they fall in autumn. Its branches are red/ brown and glabrous. Its grey/ brown bark is deeply fissured. Its white flowers have yellow or purple/ red centers, are small and appear in large panicles which are up to 25cm long. Its green coloured fruit appear as a three parted capsule, up to 6cm long and 4cm across.

Xanthoceras sorbifolium Leaf (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Xanthoceras sorbifolium Leaf (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Xanthoceras sorbifolium, commonly known as Yellowhorn or Chinese Flowering Chestnut, is native to eastern Asia including northern China. In its native habitat it grows on hills and slopes in thickets.

The etymological root of the binomial name Xanthoceras is from the Greek xanthos meaning ‘yellow’ and keras meaning ‘a horn’, refering to the growths between its petals. Sorbifolium is from from the Latin Sorbus ;the ancient Latin name for the Service Tree and folium meaning ‘leaf’.

The landscape architect may find Xanthoceras sorbifolium useful as an attractive small tree which provides interest from late spring to autumn.

Xanthoceras sorbifolium Bark (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Xanthoceras sorbifolium Bark (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically,  Xanthoceras sorbifolium flowers are attractive to pollinating insects.

Xanthoceras sorbifolium prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Xanthoceras sorbifolium  requires little maintenance.

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