Euschapis japonica –
Flowers: Inconspicuous, creamy-white flowers in late spring.
Foliage: alternate, simple, glossy, and pointed.
Fruit: Showy pink to hot-red fruits (dehiscent follicles) open to expose 2 – 5 blue-black seed.
Exposure: Performs best in full sun to part shade.
Water: Medium. Water well when young; drought resistant once well established.
Habit: Fifteen to 20 feet high with slightly less spread.
Uses: Specimen, informal hedge, mixed borders, screen.
Now here’s a small tree with great character. JC Raulston heavily promoted this tree in the 1980s. Key features include a strikingly striated bark, a pink to red fruit display that stands out against the glossy green foliage, one that lasts from the end of summer until the first heavy frosts in early winter in Zone 7 – 8. The tree makes a statement; The foliage is neat and tiered; the tree delivers a positive impact, particularly if trees are growing under full sun. While tolerant of part shade, the species achieves greates folige density and the best fruit show in full sun. Performance is improved in slightly acid soils and the species tolerates wet to dry conditions, clay to sand.
A member of Staphylaceae, Euschapis japonica is the sole species in the genus. Native to China, Japan and Korea, the species performs admirably in Zones 7 to 9. The SFA Mast Arboretum’s first trees were three clones collected by the 1985 National Arboretum Korean expedition and one clone through Clifford Park of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his work in China. All have survived well and given us years of experience with seed and cutting propagation.
Branches are glabrous; shoots are stout and pithy, with uniquely striated bark (white webbing on a purple background) .
Propagation remains complex and seedling growth is slow in the first year. Seeds require a double dormancy; that is, a period cold-moist stratification, followed by warm, moist, and then followed by cold-moist, with three to four months at each stage. One grower said he normally carries flats of seed in a shade house for two winters and gets good results. In another story, one batch of seed accidentally left for over a year in the cooler germinated at a high percentage. At any rate, growers are encouraged to experiment; the tree is worth the effort. We have had some problem with damping off of seedlings and while some report that seedlings should not be removed or transplanted until they have overwintered in the flat, we have had success transplanting at the one inch stage right out of the seedling flats – if done carefully. Container plants respond to heavy fertilization. Asexual propagation is less understood. While we have rooted the species (50% of hardwood cuttings stuck 1/22/99 rooted within four months with an initial 2500 PPM K-IBA dip). Again, further experimentation is warranted. Second year growth in the container is vigorous with young plants reaching three to four feet easily.