Hamamelis japonica var. obtusata
Common Name: Japanese witch hazel
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 7.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: February to March
Bloom Description: Pale yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Erosion, Clay Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best flowering is in full sun. Prefers moist, acidic, organically rich, gravelly to sandy soils. Tolerates heavy clay soils. Promptly remove suckers to prevent colonial spread. Prune as needed in spring after flowering to control shape and size.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hamamelis japonica, commonly called Japanese witch hazel, is an upright, open, medium to large, suckering, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 10-15' tall with a rounded, spreading shape. It is native to mountainous areas of Japan. It is particularly noted for its mildly fragrant pale yellow winter flowers, attractive medium to dark green summer foliage (broad ovate to obovate leaves to 4" long) and yellow/red/purple fall color. Flowers typically bloom for up to 4 weeks during the period of February-March. Each flower has four narrow strap-shaped petals that are crinkled.

H. japonica is very similar in appearance to H. virginica. H. japonica and H. mollis are the parents of the popular H. x intermedia cultivars.

Var. obtusata typically grows to 4-6' tall and spreads to 7-8' wide'. Small pale yellow flowers with little fragrance bloom in axillary clusters along bare stems from February to March. Each flower has four, narrow, ribbon-like, pale yellow petals. Calyx is green. Obovate-rounded leaves (to 2 1/2" long) mature to smooth dark green. Fall color is yellow.

Genus name comes from the Greek words hama meaning at same time and melon meaning apple or fruit in reference to the occurrence of both fruit and flowers at the same time on this shrub (particularly in the case of fall flowering members of the genus).

Specific epithet means of Japan.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Caterpillars and Japanese beetles may chew on the leaves. Watch for gall aphids, scale, leafroller and leafminer. Potential diseases include powdery mildew, occasional leaf spots and rots.

Garden Uses

Interesting winter-flowering shrub for the landscape. Shrub borders, open woodland gardens, informal hedge or screen. Effective in small groups. May be grown as a specimen.