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Kew Today - See the vivid autumn colours of Kew's Japanese stuartia

Holly Walk is best known for its superb collection of prolifically fruiting hollies, but head along it to the Xstrata Treetop Walkway and the pathway is set ablaze by the vivid autumn colours of the Japanese stuartia (Stuartia pseudocamellia). Au

The vibrant leaves of the Japanese stuartia (Stuartia pseudocamellia) at Kew Gardens

This Japanese tree is named after John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and adviser to Princess Augusta when she began her garden in Kew in 1759. The tree flowers continually in July and August, producing single, creamy white camellia-like flowers.

Bark detail of the Japanese stuartia (Stuartia pseudocamellia) at Kew Gardens

If weather conditions are favourable, the Japanese stuartia produces spectacular autumn foliage. With its flaking, multicoloured bark, this tree certainly earns its keep.

The dry summer of 2009 has produced some startling early autumn colour this year at Kew Gardens. This has been accelerated by the falling night time temperature.

Amongst others, the pin oak (Quercus palustris) and the sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) are also looking fabulous.


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More things to see at Kew today

Pin oak (Quercus palustris)

Alongside the River Thames and near the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, the pin oak (Quercus palustris) is displaying a fabulous autumn colour this autumn. The colour of its leaves range from orange and bronze, to deep red and purple. Its best colour comes when planted on lime free or acidic soil, and it is happiest when growing in moist ground.

Fascinating FACTS!

  • The Latin name 'palustris' means 'of the swamp'. 
  • The tree holds on to its leaves over the winter, similar to some beeches and hornbeams.
  • When the seeds of this plant are roasted, they can be used as a decent substitute for coffee!

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) at Kew Gardens

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Similar in appearance to the maple tree, the sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is named for its fragrant resin. Native to the warm and wet regions of eastern North America where it can grow as tall as 150 ft, it is cultivated, especially in Mexico, for this liquid amber. The pleasant-smelling gum is used in adhesives, perfumes and in incense.

In the UK the sweet gum is planted solely for the magnificent colours of its autumn foliage when the leaves turn brilliant shades of purple, crimson, orange and yellow. A particularly striking example can be found half way up the Broad Walk.

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