Picrasma quassioides

28 Sep

Picrasma quassioides (15/08/15, Kew Gardens London)

Picrasma quassioides (15/08/15, Kew Gardens London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained

Flowering period: Summer

Eventual Height: 10m

Eventual Spread: 7m

Hardiness: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a

Family: Simaroubaceae

Picrasma quassioides is a fast growing deciduous tree with a rounded habit. Its mid/ dark green leaves are pinnate, arranged alternately on the stem with up to 15 leaflets. Its leaflets are lanceolate to broadly ovate with a serrulate margin, up to 7.5cm long and 3.5cm wide and borne on green stems which shade to red as they mature. Its leaves turn a golden red in autumn before they fall. Its purple/ grey bark is smooth when young, maturing to rough with shallow fissures. This tree is dioecious with distinct male and female plants however the flowers of both contain male and female parts. In the female the hermaphroditic flowers have reduced stamens, shorter than its petals and in the male the stamens are twice as long as the petals. The flowers of both are small, held in large cymes or racemes, are yellow green in colour and appear in May. Its fruit is in the form of a drupe which becomes blue green when ripe.

Picrasma quassioides Leaf (15/08/15, Kew Gardens London)

Picrasma quassioides Leaf (15/08/15, Kew Gardens London)

Picrasma quassioides, commonly known as Nigaki is native to eastern Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. In its native habitat it grows in mixed woodlands.

The etymological root of the binomial name Picrasma is from the Greek pikros, meaning ‘bitter taste’. Quassioides is from the Greek in reference to its similarity to the Quassia genus.

The landscape architect may find Picrasma quassioides useful as a fast growing medium sized tree with attractive autumn leaf coulour and bark.

Picrasma quassioides Bark (15/08/15, Kew Gardens London)

Picrasma quassioides Bark (15/08/15, Kew Gardens London)

Ecologically, Picrasma quassioides is of little value in the UK.

Picrasma quassioides prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Picrasma quassioides requires little to no maintenance. Necessary pruning should be carried out in late winter to early spring.

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