It is a katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) that I planted in spring, 2009. It is a wonderful, fast growing tree with heart shaped leaves (like cercis, or redbud, hence the name "cercis-leaved") that are reddish when they come out in spring, and that smell like cotton candy when they turn bright orange in fall. It's a burnt sugar smell, and delightful on a sunny autumn day. I love this tree.
It becomes a large spreading shade tree in maturity, and I had hopes for mine.
But from the beginning this sapling attracted catastrophe.
In 2009 it looked good when first planted. Perhaps a bit stranded out in the open lawn, but it would grow.
In 2010 deer found it, and that fall a buck rubbed his antlers on the slender trunks and shredded most of the bark. All the lower branches came off, but the upper limbs remained. It looked wrecked, but it did continue to grow.
In 2011 it had added some size, when an early snowstorm tore off upper branches. Now it looked even more wrecked, but lived on.
Katsuras grow fast, so I hoped my little catastrophe-prone stick with no lower branches and only half its upper canopy would still recover and fill in and become a decent tree, give or take twenty years. An old specimen at Arnold Arboretum in Boston showed me what I could expect.
The specimen at the arboretum has kept its multiple trunks. The low, wide branches make this inviting rather than stately. This is a climbing tree, and wants a tree fort.
My little specimen had already lost its multiple stems and lower branches, but a single-trunk katsura would still spread out above, and provide shade in summer and burnt sugar fragrance in fall --- assuming it could avoid any further accidents, lightning strikes, floods or earthquakes.
But it was not to be.
In 2012 the bark completely separated from the trunk all around, even where it still cradles the back side. This is fatal. Maybe not immediately, and perhaps there will be leaves next year, but it will not live.
|Fall color of the heart shaped leaves|
I will replace it. Shade is needed in the open lawn area where this was planted.
I feel really bad about the fate of this accident prone sapling.