Yellowhorn - Xanthoceras sorbifolium - Zone 5
Yellowhorn is an exceptionally attractive deciduous tree or shrub that produces nuts similar in flavour to macadamia nuts. One of our most beautiful ornamentals, the leaves and flowers are edible right along with the nuts.
Yellowhorns are native to northern China and were probably introduced to Western Europe and North America in the mid-1880s. These slow growers manifest as either small trees or multi-stemmed shrubs able to reach heights of 8 metres in their single trunked form with a spread of about 2. 5 metres. They are a long-lived species able to reach 200 years old. The bark is dark brown, slightly rough and cracking with age. The leaves are glossy green compound leaves with 9-17 leaflets and persist late into the fall, turning an amazing bright yellow. Fragrant star shaped white flowers are produced profusely and have yellow centers that turn pink after pollination. Yellowhorns put down an extensive root system and while they prefer moist soils can tolerate significant drought once they are well established. They are tolerant of partial shade but will do best in full sun and really enjoy long, hot summers. The fruit is round and green, about 6 cm in diameter and contains between 6 and 18 seeds, brown to almost purple in colour and 1. 5 cm in diameter. The seeds have a taste similar to that of a macadamia nut. Fruiting begins in the second or third year and maximum yield by the fifth year.
Yellowhorns are spectacular as ornamental trees for their beautiful flowers and vibrant fall foliage. They are a growing favourite in permaculture circles for their multitude of edible elements. The leaves and flowers are generally eaten cooked while the nuts can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled or dried and ground into flour. The nuts can also be pressed to obtain oil and there is currently significant work being done with regard to the use of this oil for biodiesel.
|Height at maturity||8 metres (26 feet)|
|Spacing||2 metres (6 feet)|
|Hardiness zone||at least 5, might be worth trying in colder climates|
|Soil||moist, well drained|
|Sun / shade||Full sun|
|Average fruit weight|
|Years to bear fruit||2 to 3|
|Pollination||Self-fertile but more productive with pollinator|
|Latin name||Xanthoceras sorbifolium|
|Average diameter of fruit||1.5 cm each seed|
|Also known as||Goldenhorn, Chinese Flowering Chestnut, Wen Guan Guo|