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  • Arboretum Scene: Chinese Witch-Hazel

Native to central and eastern China, Hamamelis mollis is a wonderfully ornamental deciduous shrub or small tree, producing large, oval, alternate dark green leaves that turn a beautiful pure yellow to yellow-orange in fall. Sweetly fragrant, 1-1/2 inch wide, spider-like yellow blossoms appear on the spreading bare branches of the plant in winter, typically in the month of February at Washington Park Arboretum.

Chinese witch-hazel blooming the Witt Winter Garden in late January.

The Arboretum has 17 specimens of Chinese witch-hazel, including straight species and cultivars. Half of them are in—or close by—the Witt Winter Garden, and several of these date back to the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Chinese witch-hazel prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, fertile, acidic soil. Not as cold-hardy as other witch-hazel species, H. mollis should be planted in a sheltered spot to protect it from harsh winter weather.