University of Maryland Extension: Plant of the Week
Text by Bob Orazi
Photo by R.A. Howard
Looking for some wow in a small specimen tree? With appealing flowers, attractive fruit, uncommon shape, and showy bark, a Japanese snowbell, or styrax, will be the envy of your neighborhood.
The distinctly horizontal branches and broad, rounded crown can grow as wide as its 20- to 30-foot height and yet result in a very dainty tree. The prolific flowers in mid-May are bell-shaped, slightly fragrant, and pendulous.
Like little eggs wearing a green cap, the fruit remains on the tree from August to November. With under lighting they brighten any dark area of the lawn.
Yet another desirable feature is styrax bark--handsome gray-brown and smooth overlaid with irregular, orange brown interlacing fissures, great for winter interest.
When planted close to a walk or driveway, the low spreading branches can be pruned to form an upright, vase-like shape tree. Styrax grows in full sun or partial shade in well drained soil.