Hamamelis mollis 'Goldcrest'
Common Name: Chinese witch hazel 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: January to March
Bloom Description: Yellow tinged with maroon at petal bases
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Erosion, Clay Soil


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 soils. Consistent moisture is best (leaf scorch may occur during periods of summer drought). Shrubs have some tolerance for clay soils as long as soil drainage is good. Promptly remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread. H. mollis cultivars are sometimes grafted to rootstocks of native witch hazels (e.g., H. virginiana), which presents another reason for removing root suckers when they arise from below a graft union. Prune in spring after flowering to control shape and size. Plants are generally considered to be winter hardy to USDA Zone 5 (some experts conservatively say Zone 6). It is best to site these shrubs in protected locations in USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hamamelis mollis, commonly called Chinese witch hazel, is an open, upright medium to large, deciduous shrub which typically matures to 10-15’ tall with a rounded shape. It is native to forests and thickets in southeastern and southwestern China. This species produces the most fragrant flowers of all the witch hazels. It was first introduced into cultivation in England in 1879 from seed collected in China by Charles Maries, British plant explorer.

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 soft with soft hairs.

'Goldcrest' is a cultivar that is noted for its sweetly-scented, golden yellow flowers which are tinged with maroon at the petal bases. Flowers are larger than those of the species and bloom well before the foliage in mid to late winter (usually later than the species and most other H. mollis cultivars). Ovate-rounded to obovate, medium green leaves (to 6" long) are rough-textured above and downy below. Yellow-orange to yellow fall color can be quite attractive.


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. Insect and disease issues are typically not serious and rarely warrant chemical control. Susceptible to winter flower bud damage in USDA Zone 5 (particularly in windy locations when the temperatures dip below -5°F).


Shrub border or woodland garden. Good specimen value due to fragrant, late winter flowers and good fall color. Flowering stems can make an attractive winter bouquet.