Underutilized Trees for Urban Use: Japanese Snowbell

Drupes of Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) Photo by Michelle Sutton

Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) is often confused with its Styracaceae family cousin, Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina). While their flowers are similarly white, pendulous, and bearing yellow stamens, their foliage and fruit are very different. Japanese snowbell foliage is glossy and elliptic-obvate, with leaf tips curving upwards, and its fruits (drupes) look like little green (and eventually brown) olives; you’ll recall Carolina silverbell has longer, matte/dull leaves, with fruits that are football-shaped.

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