The Fragrant Epaulette Tree, Pterostyrax hispida is named for its flower bracts which closely resemble the Epaulettes on military uniforms. As the name implies, it is a fragrant blooming tree which flowers in June. From a distance, the flowers resemble a white blooming Wisteria or a Black Locust. The flower clusters are up to 9 inches long and are very beautiful from below.
These trees are hardy in zones 4 to 8 and can grow to 20′ to 50′ tall and 20′ to 40′ wide. They can take the form of an oversized shrub or can be trained to a multi-stemed or single stemmed tree. They flower best in full sun but will take some shade and still bloom nicely.
Because they are so attractive during bloom, the Fragrant Epaulette Tree makes an outstanding specimen tree. It can be used as a centerpiece in a lawn or garden to show off its beauty. It also works well in an open woods situation or on a slope. Fall brings chartreuse yellow foliage color. The bristly seed pods add interest in winter along with the multi colored bark on older trees.
The Fragrant Epaulette Tree is related to the Silverbells and is originally from the forested mountains of China and Japan. It shows no tendencies to spread on its own.
The fragrant flowers come at a time of year that honeybees and other pollinators will find them to be a useful nectar and pollen source.