Japanese Styrax (Styrax japonicas) is a small deciduous tree with glossy green leaves that face upwards and groups of lightly fragrant, 5-petaled white flowers that hang down like bells from the branches in spring and summer. One-half to one inch greenish-white, ovoid fruits develop in the fall and persist throughout the winter. Styrax is native to Japan, China, and Korea, and in the past its hard wood was used to make toys, walking sticks, and the ribbings for umbrellas. In Japan, it is a commonly planted tree in parks and gardens. Young trees start out with a vase-shaped form, and develop horizontal branching and a spreading crown with age. There are several varieties of Japanese Styrax with bright green, purple, or variegated foliage. They are relatively slow-growing trees that sparkle in a mixed border or stand out as a charming accent in a lawn. Styrax grows best in moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic, in full sun to partial shade.

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