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Pterostyrax

Epaulette Tree
Styracaceae
Deciduous, Trees

Once classified with eastern American silver bell (Halesia), to which they are related, epaulette trees make handsome, interesting garden specimens. White flower clusters appear in late spring or early summer. Slim petals show from behind alternate leaves; plant where you can look up into them—on a bank beside a path, above a bench, in a raised bed. These are choice selections for the woodland edge or as a focal point in a large shrub border. Established trees need little pruning.

Pterostyrax hispida (photo courtesy of Susan A. Roth)
Pterostyrax hispida (photo courtesy of Susan A. Roth)

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Pterostyrax hispida

Native to Japan and China. Single- or multitrunked tree grows to 20–30 ft. (possibly 40 ft.) tall and equally wide. Oval to oblong leaves are light green above, gray-green beneath. Creamy white, lightly fragrant flowers with fringed petal edges appear in drooping clusters to 9 in. long and 3 in. wide, giving bloom puffs an airy look. Pendent clusters of small, furry gray fruits that hang on well into winter are attractive on bare branches.

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