Styrax obassia gets its common name, fragrant snowbell, from the 6 to 8-inch-long clusters of fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers produced May to June.
NATIVE RANGE AND HABITAT
Fragrant snowbell is native to Japan, Korea and Manchuria.
Not native to Kentucky.
Growth Habit and Form
Fragrant snowbell is a small, 20 to 30- foot tall, deciduous tree. The habit is pyramidal to oval in youth becoming more open and rounded with age.
Leaves are alternate, simple, and circular or disk-shaped to 8 inches long and wide. Leaves are deep green and glabrous above and covered with short soft hairs beneath.
White, ¾ inch diameter, bell shaped, fragrant flowers are borne on 4-inch long stalks in 4 to 8 inch long drooping clusters in May to June.
Fruit is a ¾ inch long ovoid drupe. Fruit are silvery-green and occur in clusters in late summer.
Bark is gray to gray-brown, relatively smooth, and marked with shallow, vertical fissures. Fragrant snowbell has winter interest due to showy bark and interesting branching pattern.
Wild and Cultivated Varieties
Fragrant snowbell is appropriate as a specimen tree where the attractive bark with orange-brown vertical fissures can be appreciated at a close distance, or it can add color to the mixed shrubbery border. It is an excellent ornamental for urban gardens.
Hardy in USDA Zone 5 to 8.
Rapid growth rate
Cultivation and Propagation Information
Fragrant snowbell does best in full sun or light shade in acid, well-drained, moist loam enriched with organic matter. Transplant young balled and burlapped or container grown trees in early spring. Large plants are fairly difficult to transplant. Propagates easily from softwood cuttings taken in mid-July. Seed propagation is more difficult.
Diseases and Insects
No pests or diseases of major concern.
Fragrant snowbell provides homes and shelter for wildlife.
Minimal attention given appropriate cultural conditions.
TRADITIONAL AND MODERN USES
Fragrant snowbell was introduced into cultivation in 1870.