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Fragrant Styrax Styrax obassia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
STYE-racks oh-BAY-see-uh
Description

Fragrant snowbell is a large-leaved flowering tree.  It gets its common name from the 6-8" long racemes of fragrant white flowers that appear in late spring to early summer.  Blooming after the leaves emerge, the flowers' beauty can be hidden by the foliage.   After flowering, drupes are formed.  They may be present into late autumn.  

Growing best in well-drained, acidic soil, it can be planted in sand, clay or loam based locations.  It does not do well when soil is compacted.  In cooler planting zones, protection from winter winds is required. The leaves and flower buds can be damaged by frost. In the warmer zones, full sun is not recommended.  Locate in an area that receives some protection from the hot summer sun.

Its leaves can reach lengths of up to 8". 

It is moderately drought tolerant, once established.

The bark on older specimens can experience exfoliation which reveals a showy inner layer.  This orange layer will often provide winter interest.

This tree is pyramidal to oval in youth, but more open and rounded as it ages.  Its branches are ascending.  To control the shape of this tree, it is best to prune in the winter.  To achieve a more shrub-like form, prune annually by cutting the top back in the late summer to about one half of its height.  For a multi-stemmed habit, cut back by one half every 2 to 3 years.  A tree form can be accomplished by removing any upward growing branches. This should be accomplished in the winter months.

As the plant ages, it will tend to droop, requiring pruning for clearance underneath.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  No significant disease or pest issues.  

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

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Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#fragrant flowers#white flowers#shrub#spring flowers#winter interest#understory tree#flowering tree#street tree#multistemmed#multitrunked#deciduous tree#exfoliating bark#dense growth#broadleaf
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#fragrant flowers#white flowers#shrub#spring flowers#winter interest#understory tree#flowering tree#street tree#multistemmed#multitrunked#deciduous tree#exfoliating bark#dense growth#broadleaf
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Styrax
    Species:
    obassia
    Family:
    Styracaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Korea and Japan
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Easy to Grow
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Open
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fleshy, oval to round fruits can be showy.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    White flowers with yellow stamens on 4-8" drooping racemes.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The dark green, 3-8" leaves are pubescent on the underside. They taper to a point.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Furrowed
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark has numerous twists and turns.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    This multi-trunked plant can be trained to grow with a single trunk.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Screen/Privacy
    Shade Tree
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Understory Tree