Emmenopterys henryi at Roath Park Botanic Garden

Emmenopterys henryi 0

Emmenopterys henryi
February 2015

Emmenopterys henryi 1

Emmenopterys henryi
mid April 2015

Emmenopterys henryi 2

Emmenopterys henryi
mid June 2015

Emmenopterys henryi 4

Emmenopterys henryi in flower
late August 2018

Grid reference ST 18489 79222
Common name  
Origin Central and SW China
Deciduous Yes
Status Rare
Status GB Champion 2013
Tree trail Post 8
Height 14.5M June 2001 (Roger Smith)
Height 16M February 2015
Girth 120cm June 2001 (Roger Smith)
Girth 149cm February 2015
Girth 161cm August 2018
Reference 85

To find the tree, from the west side of the promenade follow the path which runs parallel to Lake Road West, south to the westerly toilet building. Turn left and the small Acer Lawn in on your left. The tree is at the far end of this lawn, behind a "V" trunk of a now-removed Acer.

Emmenopterys henryi is partially hidden by an Acer in front of it. In the February 2015 photograph the long straight trunk can clearly be seen. In the April and June photographs its light green upper foliage is visible above the Acer and in front of the Pines.

The tree is thought to have been planted early in the 20th century by Pettigrew or Nelmes. It was identified in 2001 after Terry Davies, the Roath Park Superintendent, was asked what kind of tree it was by a member of the Parks staff, Dave Jones, who was leading guided walks in the park at that time. Terry asked Roger and Vicky Smith if they could identify it and after some research they decided it was Emmenopterys henryi. This was confimed with the assistance of the Head Gardener at Trewithen Gardens in Cornwall where there was a known specimen. Samples of leaves and photographs were exchanged. When Roger submitted measurements to the Tree Register this tree was found to be the largest in the British Isles and therefore became the Great Britain Champion.

In 2018 after a hard winter and a hot summer this tree produced flowers for the first time known. This was reported on Wales television news and in national newspapers on the weekend of the 10-12th August 2018. The tree was first seen in flower on the 8th August and was still in flower on August 27th. By September 15th the number of flowers had very much diminished. Some flowers were still visible in the second week in October, though most had gone.

Emmenopterys henryi bark

Emmenopterys henryi bark
February 2015

Emmenopterys henryi foliage

Emmenopterys henryi foliage
early August 2018

Emmenopterys henryi leaf

Emmenopterys henryi leaves
early August 2018

Emmenopterys henryi flower1

Emmenopterys henryi flowers
early August 2018

Emmenopterys henryi flower2

Emmenopterys henryi flowers
early August 2018 ©Gareth Stamp

Emmenopterys henryi flower3

Emmenopterys henryi fallen flower
early August 2018

Emmenopterys henryi flower4

Emmenopterys henryi flowers & buds
early August 2018 ©Raj Chettri

Emmenopterys henryi flower5

Emmenopterys henryi flowers & buds
early August 2018 ©Raj Chettri

General tree description

Emmenopterys henryi can grow up to 20 to 25 metres tall, with a narrow shape and straight stem. It has grey, rough bark. The leaves are large (up to 22cm long), oval or ovate, pointed, and dark green with red petioles. The 3cm creamy-white, fragrant flowers are produced in large clusters between July and September, along with white, oval bracts up to 5cm long. The fruits are spindle-shaped capsules 2.5 to 4cm long and slightly ribbed. They ripen between October and November, each capsule containing a number of broad, winged seeds.

This tree is noted for exceptionally rare flowering. The earliest known flowering in Europe was in Italy in 1971, and in the UK at Wakehurst Place, Sussex in 1987. A specimen in Cambridge flowered in 2012, 30 years after planting, only the fifth flowering in the UK.