Korean Sweetheart Tree – Euscaphis japonica

Korean Sweetheart Tree
Korean Sweetheart Tree

The hardly known tree was brought to the attention of nurserymen in 1985 by JC Raulston who, on a trip to the Korean Peninsula, brought the original seed lot back to the National Arboretum.  The plant has no common name in English, but Don Shadow has bestowed the name ‘Korean Sweetheart Tree’ on the tree due to the heart shaped red berries it forms in the fall. These berries then open to reveal shiny black seeds.

Young buds of the tree are consumed in Korea, and the roots and dry fruits are used medicinally. The wood is used for making furniture, oil from the seeds is used for making soap, and tannin is extracted from the bark. Birds and wildlife find the fruit appetizing.

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