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Wheel Tree Trochodendron aralioides

Phonetic Spelling
tro-koh-DEN-dron a-ray-lee-OH-id-eez
Description

Trochodendron aralioide or Wheel Tree is an evergreen tree or shrub from Asia and the only surviving species in the genus. It grows 10-20 feet tall and wide and taller if pruned as a tree. In its native habitat it can grow to a height of up to 60 feet with a trunk diameter of up to 16 feet.   In cultivation, its size will be much smaller, especially in cool climates.  It will grow in full sun in a variety of soil types, however will preform at its best when grown in a loam based soil in dappled shade.

Its name is derived from Greek words, trochos means wheel, while dendron mean tree.  When it is flowering, numerous stamens spread out like spokes in a wheel.

In the wild, it can begin life as a growth on the trunk of a Japanese cedar and grow in a shrubby form for several years. 

The leathery glossy leaves are in whorls around the terminal bud giving it an umbrella-like appearance. Spring flowers are greenish star-shaped flowers in clusters. The growth rate is slow.

It will grow in full sun but does best with some afternoon shade or even dappled shade. Grow in moist fertile well-drained loams and give it protection from winds. It will tolerate some flooding but not drought.

Wheel Tree may be difficult to find for sale but could be used as a specimen shrub, understory tree or a tree for light shade.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:   No serious insect or disease issues.  Protect from strong winds.  Once it is established, it is quite difficult to relocate.  Many years may pass before flowering takes place.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#shrub#showy#tree#showy leaves#broadleaf evergreen#winter interest#wetlands#wet sites#rare#wet soils tolerant#drought intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#shrub#showy#tree#showy leaves#broadleaf evergreen#winter interest#wetlands#wet sites#rare#wet soils tolerant#drought intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Trochodendron
    Species:
    aralioides
    Family:
    Trochodendraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Japan, Korea, Taiwan
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Horizontal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a woody star-shaped capsule composed of 4-11 follicles up to 3/4". Seeds will form after the flowers have bloomed.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The small flowers have no petals or sepals. Separate male and female flowers. Male flowers are purple and female greenish flowers on erect racemes up to 5" in late spring with follicles in clusters. Each raceme can contain 10 to 20 flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Textured leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2 to 2-3/4 inches wide, ovate to elliptical with crenate margins. They are leathery and glossy and grow in clusters or whorls around the terminal bud with much of the branch bare. Dark green leaves with paler undersides. Fall color can be bronze with reddish highlights.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Bark Description:
    The aromatic bark lacks vessels, looking more like a conifer than a broadleaf tree.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil