Stachyurus praecox
Common Name: stachyurus 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Stachyuraceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellow-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in light, humusy, acidic, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where plants should be sited in protected locations that are sheltered from cold, drying winter winds. Unprotected flower buds may be damaged by frost. Shrubs flower on old wood, so pruning should be done in early spring immediately after flowering. Remove flower shoots to the base on mature plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Stachyurus praecox is a deciduous shrub that is perhaps best noted for its unique and colorful late winter to early spring flowers that bloom before the foliage emerges. Flower buds form in autumn and overwinter on the plant in pendant, catkin-like racemes that hang from the leaf axils. Each flowering raceme (to 4” long) typically has 10-20 tiny, bell-shaped, 4-petaled, yellow-green flowers (3/ 8” across). Flowers bloom in late March-April in St. Louis. This shrub typically grows to 4-6’ (less frequently to 10’) tall with an open, upright, arching-spreading habit. During the growing season, attractive red-brown to chestnut-brown branches are clothed (sometimes sparsely) with ovate, tapered, serrate, medium green leaves (to 7” long). Foliage may turn rosy red and yellow in fall.

Genus name comes from the Greek words stachys meaning an ear of corn, hence a spike and oura meaning a tail for the form of the racemes.

Specific epithet means early.

Plants in this genus are sometimes commonly called spiketail, in reference to the flowers.


No serious insect or disease problems. Winter damage is a concern.


Foundations, shrub borders, woodland gardens. Shrub may be trained against a wall with a southern exposure.