Kerria japonica - Japanese Kerria
Family: Rosaceae

Hear the scientific name

Kerria japonica is an upright to arching, green-stemmed shrub with golden-yellow late spring and sporadic summer flowers.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-small ornamental shrub

-maturing at up to 5' tall x 6' wide

-arching clump growth habit, becoming rounded with age

-rapid growth rate from its basal shoots, but slow growth rate from the established stems

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-emerging as a bright medium-green color and changing to dark green as the season progresses

-deciduous, alternate, ovate to lanceolate, doubly serrated, with impressed veins and an acuminate apex

-green to yellowish green autumn color that is persistent into Nov.


-bright golden-yellow, in Apr. and May and sporadically throughout the summer

-1.5" diameter solitary flowers can be very dense on the stems if sited in full sun

-each golden-yellow flower is effective for 2-3 weeks and has a good contrast against the green foliage background


-small, brown, and ornamentally inconspicuous


-bright kelly green, even in winter

-stems are very thin, somewhat zigzag, and have small brown conical winter buds

-dead stems are white-brown, noticeable, and often in the center of mature shrubs, and should be annually removed every late winter or early spring


-not applicable

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-full sun to full shade

-prefers a moist, rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil in partial sun, but will tolerate poor soils, various soil pHs, heat, drought, and various sun or shade conditions

-propagated primarily by rooted stem cuttings, but also by separation of the rooted suckers

-Rose Family, with few disease or pest problems, although death of the older, usually central stems in the winter is fairly common with mature shrubs

moderately available in container form

-tolerant of heavy pruning, which can be used to rejuvenate old plants


-zones 4 to 9


-native to China

U   S   A   G   E


-evergreen (light green) stems on a deciduous shrub

showy yellow flowers in late spring and sporadically thereafter

-rapid growth and vigor once established


-spreads underground beyond its original space and is invasive by peripheral suckers, except in a root-restricted site (such as in a raised bed, or between a sidewalk and a foundation)

-central stems on mature plants often dieback during winter (especially when sited in poorly drained soils) and turn off-white, and result in necessary maintenance for their selective removal in early spring


-foundation, specimen, group planting, or mass planting shrub, good for naturalizing in the border or in erosion control situations

-good winter stem contrast against red brick or white stone walls


-medium-fine texture in foliage and very fine-texture when bare

-open to average density in foliage but thick density when bare (for mature plants)

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-shrubs with winter stem appeal (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', Chionanthus retusus, Cornus sericea cultivars, Corylus avellana 'Contorta', etc.)

-shrubs with showy yellow flowers in spring (Cornus mas, Forsythia, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise', etc.)

-naturalizing shrubs that can be used in the border or for erosion control (Acanthopanax sieboldianus, Cornus alba, Salix purpurea, Sambucus canadensis)


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