Native to central and eastern China, Hamamelis mollis is a wonderfully ornamental deciduous shrub or small tree, producing large, oval, alternate dark green leaves that turn a beautiful pure yellow to yellow-orange in fall. Sweetly fragrant, 1-1/2 inch wide, spider-like yellow blossoms appear on the spreading bare branches of the plant in winter, typically in the month of February at Washington Park Arboretum.
The Arboretum has 17 specimens of Chinese witch-hazel, including straight species and cultivars. Half of them are in—or close by—the Witt Winter Garden, and several of these date back to the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Chinese witch-hazel prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, fertile, acidic soil. Not as cold-hardy as other witch-hazel species, H. mollis should be planted in a sheltered spot to protect it from harsh winter weather.