Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) by Dusty M

Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) occupies the place of honor in my front yard, in the corner of sidewalk and driveway. It is a delightful small tree that intrigues passersby both when it blooms in mid-spring and in winter when its dark brown seed capsules the size and shape of apricots accent its twiggy skeleton. That is, until the squirrels have harvested them all and emptied them of the pea-sized seeds inside.

The Yellowhorn is said to grow to 18 feet in height; mine is about 12, after more than 15 years in place. It has flowered rather reliably, but late freezes have destroyed its blossoms several times. Neighbors across the street have a Redbud tree that blooms at the same time, so I had come to think of them as sharing the same hardiness. This year, however, the Redbud had no flowers.

Michael Dirr, in his Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, says the Yellowhorn is adaptable to well-drained soils, either acid or alkaline. Mine is the latter. It is hardy to Zone 3 or 4, so it should be happy even with our neighbors at higher altitudes.