Japanese Stewartia: Saucer-Shaped, White Flowers Are Really Eye Catching

Japanese Stewartia: Saucer-Shaped, White Flowers Are Really Eye Catching

Japanese Stewartia

Photo Compliments of Autan

Stewartia pseudocamellia or Japanese stewartia is probably the most beautiful small tree for the landscape. What makes this such an exceptional landscape specimen are the flowers, foliage, and the unusual bark pattern. The saucer-shaped, white flowers are really eye catching in midsummer. Its dark green leaves become a riot of saturated oranges and flaming brilliant reds in the autumn.

As the tree matures, a beautiful patchwork of pink, red-brown and gray develop on the bark along its trunk and branches. This really exceptional tree has no serious insect or disease problems. It’s striking branching pattern and decorative bark stand out best against an evergreen backdrop. This is an exceptional tree for small spaces.

How To Make Your Japanese Stewartia Thrive

Japanese stewartia is a slow growing small tree that thrives in light to open shade. You should provide a location with rich well-drained or sandy soil. It grows best if provided with regular watering during dry weather. Little pruning is needed; in fact heavy pruning can ruin the form of this lovely tree. Consult an expert pruner or take a local class before attempting to prune.

When this tree matures it will reach a height of 20 to 40 feet. It is often grown in cultivation as a multi-stemmed shrub reaching a height of only 12 feet. Cup-shaped, camellia-like white flowers (to 2.5 inches in diameter) with showy orange-yellow anthers appear in early summer. Elliptic, dark green foliage (up to 3 inches long) turns stunning shades of reddish-orange and burgundy in autumn. Exfoliating, reddish-brown bark provides excellent winter color and interest. Species name of pseudocamellia means false camellia. Stewartia, camellia and franklinia are all members of the tea family and have similar flowers.

General Japanese Stewartia Information

Pests & Diseases

There are no serious insect or disease problems.


Seeds require warm stratification followed by chilling before germination can occur; under normal conditions seeds require a ‘two-year’ dormancy.  Freshly dispersed seed can be given a warm treatment for 150 days to 180 days at fluctuating temperatures of 68 to 86 degrees fahrenheit and then a 90 day cold treatment at 41 degrees fahrenheit to promote germination the following early summer.

Garden Uses

Japanese stewartia excels when planted in borders, used as lawn specimens, or planted in woodland gardens.

Quick Information

  • Family: Theaceae
  • Common Name: Japanese stewartia
  • Plant Type: Columnar tree
  • Foliage Type: Deciduous
  • Plant Height: 20 to 40 feet
  • Plant Width: 8 to 25 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 5 to 8
  • Bloom Time: June to July
  • Bloom Color: White
  • Sun Exposure: Lite to open shade
  • Water Requirements: Medium
  • Seasonal Interest: Gorgeous autumn color, bark in winter
  • Water: Medium
  • Maintenance: Low

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  1. Beautiful tree flowers! I have never seen it before.

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