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These fabulous, medium to large, trees colour brilliantly in autumn. Young plants will develop best protected from cold winds and shaded from early morning sun. Suitable for all good soils but autumn colours are best in acid conditions. The heart shaped foliage is not only beautiful but, especially in autumn, emits a rare fragrance. The scent is difficult to describe, perhaps best given as a blend of caramelised sugar and crushed strawberries. This is due to high concentrations of maltose in the ageing leaves. Maltose is used commercially to enhance the aroma of baked confections.
Chinese folklore tells of a woodcutter, possessing the Taoist secret of immortality, who committed a crime so heinous that it required terrible punishment. He was banished to the moon and set to the task of felling a five thousand foot high Katsura tree that could never be cut down; the shadows we now see on the moon are the images of the condemned woodcutter and his tree. This legend associates the Katsura tree not only with the moon but also with a desperately desired but unattainable goal.