Euscaphis japonica, commonly called Korean sweetheart tree, is a large deciduous shrub native to China. It grows to 20 feet (6 m.) high and produces showy red fruit that look like hearts. For more Euscaphis information and tips for growing, read on.
Botanist J. C. Raulston came across the Korean sweetheart tree in 1985 on the Korean Peninsula while participating in a U.S. National Arboretum collection expedition. He was impressed with the attractive seed pods and brought some back to the North Carolina State Arboretum for assessment and evaluation.
The Euscaphis is a small tree or tall bush with an open branch structure. It usually grows to between 10 and 20 feet (3-6 m.) tall and can spread to 15 feet (5 m.) wide. During the growing season, slender emerald-green leaves fill the branches. The leaves are compound and pinnate, about 10 inches (25 cm.) long. Each has between 7 and 11 shiny, slender leaflets. The foliage turns a deep golden purple in autumn before the leaves fall to the ground.
The Korean sweetheart tree produces small, yellowish-white flowers. Each flower is tiny, but they grow in 9-inch (23 cm.) long panicles. According to Euscaphis information, the flowers are not particularly decorative or showy and appear in spring.
These flowers are followed by heart-shaped seed capsules, which are the true ornamental elements of the plant. The capsules ripen in autumn and turn a bright crimson, looking a lot like valentines hanging from the tree. In time, they split open, showing the shiny dark blue seeds within.
Another decorative feature of the Korean sweetheart tree is its bark, which is a rich chocolate purple and bears white stripes.
Euscaphis Plant Care
If you are interested in growing Euscaphis japonica, you’ll need Euscaphis plant care information. The first thing to know is that these shrubs or small trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 8.
You’ll need to plant them in well-drained, sandy loams. The plants are happiest in full sun but will also grow well in part shade.
Euscaphis plants do fine in short periods of drought, but plant care is more difficult if you live in a spot with hot, dry summers. You’ll have an easier time growing Euscaphis japonica if you keep the soil consistently moist.