Phellodendron amurense 'Macho'
Common Name: Amur cork tree
Type: Tree
Family: Rutaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 30.00 to 45.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 45.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Best grown in fertile, humusy, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Prefers consistently moist soils, but established trees tolerate some drought. Tolerates many urban air pollutants. Freely reseeds in optimum growing conditions, however, female trees need a male pollinator to produce fruit/seeds. This tree has escaped cultivation in parts of the northeastern U.S. where it is somewhat aggressively spreading into some native hardwood forest areas.

'Macho' is a male cultivar that does not produce fruit.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phellodendron amurense, commonly called Amur cork tree, is a deciduous tree with a rounded, broad-spreading crown. It is noted for its attractive shape, bark and foliage. It is indigenous to moist soils in the valley of the Amur River which serves as the boundary between Siberia and China. It typically grows 30-45’ tall with a short trunk and low horizontal branching. Some mature specimens at the Missouri Botanical Garden have very large lower branches that gracefully dip to touch the ground many feet from the trunk. Grayish-brown bark on mature trees is ridged and corky. Compound, odd-pinnate, yellowish green to green leaves have 5-11 leaflets (each leaflet to 4 1/2” long). Foliage turns an undistinguished yellow in fall. This species is dioecious (separate male and female trees). Non-showy, yellowish green flowers appear in panicles in May-June. Pollinated flowers on female trees give way to fleshy pea-sized fruits (1/2” diameter drupes) which mature to black in fall (October) and persist well into winter. Foliage and fruits are unpleasantly aromatic when bruised, which is somewhat characteristic of the Rue family to which this stately tree belongs.

Genus name comes from the Greek words phellos meaning cork and dendron meaning a tree for the corky bark.

Specific epithet refers to the Amur River which serves as the boundary between Siberia and China where the species is native.

The name cork tree is in reference to the resemblance of the bark of this tree to the bark of the true cork tree, Quercus suber, which is an unrelated oak family member.

'Macho', as the name seems to suggest, is a male cultivar. Non-showy, yellowish green, male flowers appear in panicles in May-June. No fruit is produced. 'Macho' was introduced into commerce in 1985 by Bill Wandell of Urbana, Illinois.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Landscape tree for large lots or parks. Generally considered to be a poor street tree because of its spreading, low-branching habit. Interesting bark provides some winter interest.

Good shade tree.