Common name: Chinese fighazel
Sycopsis sinensis is a rare semi-evergreen shrub or small tree in the Witchhazel family. A native to central China, it grows to a 5 m/15 ft height and spread. Like most witchhazels, Chinese fighazel takes its time growing out and up. But it is always worth the wait. It is an elegant and hardy tree with linear, deep green leaves and clusters of orange/red flowers in mid-winter.
We have two in the garden - one in the Fern Dell planted in bed 130D in 2015 and another in bed 121. It was introduced to gardens in 1901 by the plant hunter Ernest Wilson, who collected it for the renowned nursery Messrs Veitch. The genus name ‘Sycopsis’ is derived from Greek and means ‘fig-resembler’. Daniel Oliver, who named the genus, thought it looked like a shrubby fig.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones, except for:
Flower photo by Cillas, via Wikimedia Commons