Styrax - Snowbell, Storax
DESCRIPTION: This group of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs are natives of North America, Europe and Asia. They are commonly known as Snowbells or Storax. S. japonica (Japanese Snowbell) is an attractive, slow-growing, flowering shrub or tree that eventually reaches a height of up to 30 feet. It produces a round head of wide-spreading branches covered with narrow, glossy green leaves, 1½ to 3 inches long. The foliage is remarkably pest-free and turns red and yellow colors in autumn. In early summer, the Japanese Snowbell is covered with sprays of slightly fragrant, ¾-inch, white blossoms that are centered with a yellow cone of stamens. The flowers are followed by ½-inch, gray, inedible fruits. Some kinds of Styrax produce a highly fragrant, balsamic resin called Benzoin. It is used in lotions, perfumes, tooth powders and incense and as an expectorant, inhalant and an antiseptic for external use.
POTTING: They can be grown in full sun or light shade in light, acidic soil that has been improved with loam or peat moss. They should be planted in the fall or spring, in a sheltered position. If the plants are bought balled and burlapped, they should be planted in early spring. Prune young trees in the summer; older trees rarely need any.
PROPAGATION: Seeds may be sown as soon as they are harvested. They may be planted in pots or flats that are set outdoors during the winter and brought into a warm greenhouse in the spring, when they should soon sprout. Sometimes, the seeds may not sprout the first spring, but they shouldn't be discarded until the second spring after sowing. Some varieties can be rooted from cuttings of short shoots, in the summer. Insert the cuttings into sandy soil in a closed cold frame. They may also be increased by layering the lower branches, however, seeds are the best means of propagation.
VARIETIES: S. japonica (Japanese Snowbell) & var. Pink Chimes; S. Obassia (Fragrant Snowbell); S. Hemsleyana; S. Wilsonii; S. Veitchiorum; S. dasyantha; S. Shiraiana; S. langhongensis; S. shweliansis; S. americanus (American Snowbell or American Storax); S. officinalis (European Storax); S. grandifolius.
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