Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Rotfuchs' RED FOX
Common Name: katsura tree 
Type: Tree
Family: Cercidiphyllaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Red (male), green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: Clay Soil


Best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates full sun, but has little tolerance for drought particularly when young. Best sited in a location protected from strong winds and hot afternoon sun. This is a dioecious tree (male and female flowers on separate trees).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cercidiphyllum japonicum, commonly called katsura tree, is native to Japan and China. It is a deciduous, single or multi-trunked, understory tree with a dense, rounded habit that typically matures to 40-60’ tall in cultivation, but can reach 100’ or more in the wild. It is grown for its beautiful shape and its attractive foliage. Cordate, round-oval leaves (to 4” long) resemble those of a small redbud (Cercis is the redbud genus and phyllon is Greek for leaf). Leaves emerge reddish purple in spring, mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinge in summer and turn quality shades of gold, orange and red in fall. Although not aromatic, the fallen autumn leaves have been varyingly described as smelling of cinnamon, burnt sugar or ripe apples. Tiny flowers (red on male trees and green on female trees) appear in spring before the foliage but are not particularly showy. Pollinated flowers on female trees are followed by clusters of greenish pods (to 3/4” long).

Genus name comes from the Greek words kerkis meaning redbud or Judas tree and phyllon meaning a leaf for its appearance to redbud (Cercis.)

Specific epithet means of Japan.

‘Rotfuchs’ (translates from German to English as red fox) is commonly sold in the U.S. under the name of RED FOX. It is a purple-leaved cultivar. In spring, the leaves emerge deep burgundy-purple with contrasting yellow-green veining and tiny white marginal teeth. Leaves are especially attractive when backlit by sun. Leaf color fades to bluish green by mid-summer before finally changing to gold, orange and red in fall.


No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage may scorch in hot, dry and/or windy conditions.


Small specimen shade tree or street tree.