Japanese stewartia is also known by its scientific name, Stewartia pseudocamellia. It is a deciduous tree with peeling bark, mid-sized leaves, and flowers that look similar to roses. Although this species of tree is native to Japan, a variation of the species exists that is native to Korea. The main difference between the two variations is that the blooms of the Korean stewartia are approximately 3 inches (7.6 cm) in diameter, while the blossoms of the Japanese stewartia will only grow to about 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) in diameter.
In general, Japanese stewartia is a column-like tree. Its peeling bark ranges in color from pink to reddish-brown to gray. It has oval-shaped leaves that have fine teeth around the edges. The leaves can grow to about 4 inches (10.2 cm) long and change from green to red, orange, purple, and yellow during the fall. In the mid-summer months, white flowers with yellow stamens, similar in shape to roses, bloom either singly or in pairs along the new shoots.
Growing Japanese stewartia is not difficult, particularly in comparison to many flowering trees. These trees are not prone to disease or pests, making it unnecessary to use pesticides or fungicide. In addition, they grow well in moist, well-drained soil that can be neutral or acidic. The soil should be rich in humus and the trees should be planted in full sunlight as well. In most cases, it is also best if they are sheltered from strong winds.
Although the Japanese stewartia is a slow-growing species of tree, it will typically grow to heights more than 30 feet (about 9.1 m). There even have been some tree specimens that have grown more than 70 feet (about 21.3 m) tall. As a result, it is often grown as the focal point of a lawn. When the bark peels, the leaves change colors, and the flowers bloom, it is quite striking for most ornamental landscapes.
Besides being slow to grow, the Japanese stewartia is also not tolerant of drought or heat. In fact, extreme temperatures can stunt its growth further and limit its blooms. In addition, it can be a rather expensive tree to purchase. It is possible to grow it from seeds or from cuttings, but the time it takes for the tree to mature may make those options less than ideal. Trees can be purchased from home garden stores or from Internet nurseries, saving the gardener years of toil.