Mallotus japonicus - Food Wrapper Tree


  • Rarely cultivated but a rather beautiful ornamental shrub or small tree that comes from Japan where its leaves are used to wrap food, therefore they are edible (they are best when young). The tree is easy to grow but dislikes hard frosts and prefers slightly acidic soil. Sponge-like orange-red flowers (on female plants) or reddish, smaller flowers (on male plants) open late Spring (sometimes in Autumn), followed by sand coloured fruits with red hairs, equally interesting (on female plants). The simple, hairy leaves have a purple appearance when young (in Spring), this gives another value to this lovely plant. Dioecious but both the male and female plant is interesting enough to own. It will grow best in a sheltered sunny spot, or by a South facing wall. 6-8cm tall seedling plant in a sturdy 8cm pot; freshly hand picked from our nursery benches; cultivated under UK climatic conditions.


 Also known as:  -
 Native to:    China, Japan, Korea
 Family:    Euphorbiaceae - Spurge Family
 Habit (UK conditions):  large shrub or small tree (fast grower)
 Max size in 10 years (UK conditions, if unpruned):  3 x 3m
 Main value:   young leaves, flowers
 Flowers are:   orange or red
 Flowering period: late Spring (sometimes Autumn)
 Autumn coloration:  yellowish (sometimes purple)
 Preferences:   full sun or light shade, regular watering in dry periods, slightly acidic soil is best
 Hardiness:   half - hardy in the UK and in Western Europe, it needs some protection in Winter
 Known hazards:    none to our knowledge
 Edible uses:  the young leaves are edible


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