Styrax obassia
Common Name: fragrant snowbell 
Type: Tree
Family: Styracaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in medium moisture, acidic, organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prune in winter to control shape. Best planted in a protected location in USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Styrax obassia, commonly called fragrant snowbell, is a small, slender, upright tree with ascending branches and rounded crown or a large shrub. Typically grows 20-30' tall. Bell-shaped, fragrant, white flowers with showy yellow stamens appear in pendulous, terminal racemes (to 8" long) in May-June (somewhat late for trees). Flowers are often partially obscured by the large, velvety, oval-rounded, medium green leaves (to 8" long). Flowers give way to drupes which may persist into late autumn. Smooth gray bark exfoliates on the trunks of older trees revealing an attractive orange inner layer and resulting winter interest.

Genus name comes from the classical Greek name derived from a Semitic name for these resin producing plants.

Specific epithet is a Japanese name.


No serious insect or disease problems. Flower buds and foliage are susceptible to late winter/early spring frost damage.


Shrub borders. Understory tree for woodland gardens. Lawn specimen.