Japanese snowbell

Japanese snowbell grows in natural forests throughout Japan and it grows to about seven to eight meters in height.   The tree has no distinct characteristics.  The bark is smooth, fine and reddish-brown or blackish-brown in colour.   The branches have alternatively placed oval leaves, which are pointed at both ends.

From the second half of May until the end of June, many white flowers bloom around the branch end to release a good scent.   The flower is about 2.5cm in diameter.  It has a long flower stem and therefore blooms downwards.   It has 10 stamens each with a large yellow anther, which creates a good contrast with the pure-white petals.   It blooms for a short period of time but blossoms neatly.  Therefore, it is often used as a garden tree.   The fundamental species is white-flowered but there is a pink-flowered cultivar, Pink chimes (Styrax japonica 'Pink Chimes'), which is valued as a garden tree as well.

A number of insect galls sometimes form at the end of the branch during the rainy season.   They are green, uniquely shaped and tufted.  The insect, Ceratovacuna nekoashi, is a parasite, which develops in the gall.

In autumn, the Japanese snowbell produces oval fruits, which are 2cm in diameter and contain one large seed.   The fruit skin is rich in poisonous jegosaponin.  The whole plant contains the saponin, which tastes harsh.

Classification: Styracaceae Styrax
Scientific name: Styrax japonicus Siebold & Zucc.
Japanese name: Ego-no-ki
English Name: Japanese snowbell
Native locality: Whole of Japan, Korean, Taiwan, China
Ecological description: Deciduous tree
RDB : ---
Planting place: Herb Garden
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