Have you also heard more about the bee tree, Euodia hupehensis, lately? It is indeed a most interesting tree which you can read more about planting, pruning and propagating below.

Bee trees – very special plants

The bee trees bear a not entirely flattering German original name: Samthaare Stinkesche. This refers to the smell of its leaves, which people find unpleasant. Other noses find the scent of the shrub wonderful. And because one finds it hard to be a stinky tree in a posh garden, the shrub quickly took on more friendly colloquial names: the name bee tree, or honey ash, fragrant rue or thousand-flower shrub.

The velvety stinkash is definitely a highly attractive deciduous shrub native to China and Korea. There it grows up to 20 meters high, which is why this information can also be found in some local descriptions, which is not correct. In our climate, the tree usually grows more slowly than in its homeland and becomes five to seven meters high, but only after around 30 years. In some German botanical gardens there are slightly taller bee trees, but they are much older than 30 years.

The name thousand flower shrub is no coincidence, the bee tree flowers for a long time (from June/July to September/October) and abundantly. The whole plant is then covered with fragrant umbels of small white flowers. The leaves are narrow and oblong, glossy dark green above and dull green below, fading to a light yellow-green in autumn. At this time, the bee tree has long since had its decorative infructescence of reddish berries, which are regularly distributed over the tree in individual, dense panicles.

Overall, it is a perfect house tree – which is also really useful when wasps slowly become aggressive in late summer. A house tree is usually given a place in front of the house, at some distance from the seating area in the garden. There it now attracts all the bees and wasps, you can rest in peace at the seat itself.

Buy bee tree

When you buy your bee tree, you should only buy it from a specialist shop if you are thinking of getting seeds from your bee tree for propagation.

The velvety stinky tree is sometimes described as dioecious, so you need a male and a female tree for pollination. Other bee tree gardeners report that bee trees are either all-male plants or hermaphrodites (bisexual bee trees). This has consequences for the flowering time, the number of flowers and the pollination of a single bee tree. So if you want to propagate bee trees yourself, you would have to look for a breeder who offers bee trees by gender.

Plant a bee tree

A bee tree needs a normally bright location, it does not have many requirements in this regard. The soil should be fresh, humus and well drained. In the long run, the bee tree will not tolerate very dry or very wet soil very well. A sandy and loamy soil would be optimal for the bee tree, but it also grows in pure sandy soil that has been enriched with compost or good topsoil.

When the location has been found and the soil has been prepared, you can plant your bee tree – if in doubt, do not plant it for the time being!

Because most bee trees that are currently available for purchase are young, sometimes very young. Even a bee tree with a height of around one meter can be sold for around €70. The cheaper offers are just a few centimeters high.

And these small bee trees are sensitive to frost and late frost and, in case of doubt, to any frost in winter. Therefore, a bee tree should not be confronted with frost at all in its first three years of life. You can plant your bee tree beforehand, but then you would need to provide it with some really good winter protection.

If it is possible, it is usually more convenient to keep the bee tree in a bucket for the first few years and to overwinter it in a protected place. The bee tree is then moved to a room with a temperature between 0 and 10 degrees as soon as it has lost its leaves (usually in November).

From March/April, the bee tree will be used to being outside again by being warmer. When the weather is nice, you can also go outside. It will then already begin to sprout, after the ice saints (mid-May) it can then move completely outside.


When the bee tree is big enough, it can be planted in the garden. Once it’s just about big enough, wait until spring to plant it. Then the little bee tree still has a growing season to take root before it has to survive its first winter outdoors.

The bee tree wants a regular, good water supply. If necessary, you will need to water them additionally until they have rooted in and during the heat of midsummer. But then make sure that the bee tree is not standing in stagnant water. Mulching the tree disc helps with even moisture supply and provides root protection in winter.

The best way to fertilize the bee trees is with organic long-term fertilizer, which should contain little nitrogen from late summer. In the fall, a more phosphorus and potassium-rich fertilizer is the right way to prepare for the winter. It promotes winter hardiness and at the same time ensures good development of the fruit. However, an older bee tree usually does not need a lot of additional fertilizer, which is then no longer fertilized at all from August. In this way, the shoots lignify in time and do not go soft in the winter.

Young bee trees are particularly fond of slugs, so you need either slug protection (slug pellets) or comfortable hedgehog dwellings in the garden. If conceivable, you should also protect the young plants from deer browsing, for example with a wire mesh cuff.

When planting out bee trees, make sure that you protect them from longer frosts and heavier late frosts with suitable winter protection. Both can also trouble an older bee tree. You should also make sure to water your bee tree in winter when the sun causes water evaporation in frost-free weather.

Euodia hupehensis cuttings

A bee tree is usually hardly pruned if it can develop freely in a solitary position. Then z. B. Remove frozen shoot tips in a severe frost, or you can cut away individual branches after the frost period if the bee tree develops too heavily.

You can also grow your bee tree in more of a shrub form. Then in the summer it is trimmed again a bit in order to branch out further and grow like a bush.

The growth form of the tree usually offers one of the two cutting forms. Overall, the bee tree tolerates pruning well and sprouts out of old wood without any problems, even quite vigorously. If you prune the tree very radically, it might just not flower the following season.

You can also integrate the bee tree into a loose privacy hedge and then limit its dimensions with a targeted cut. Then it should be pruned after flowering until the end of the vegetation phase, so that it can close its wounds well by autumn/winter.

For a formal hedge that needs regular trimming to maintain its neat shape, the bee tree is less suitable. If you rigorously prune it every year, it won’t be able to flower.


If you want to propagate your bee tree, sowing is the first choice. Then you need seed from a mother tree where pollination is assured.

The experts doubt that it is so easy to propagate the bee tree from cuttings. It has quite hard wood and relatively large leaves. Both suggest that cuttings will have a hard time, at least without special propagation equipment such as fog systems or propagation houses, which are usually not available in private households.

The ecological value of the bee tree

The bee tree is celebrated by German beekeepers as a supplier of nectar of the highest quality, which also bears its nectar very late. It has long been enthusiastically planted by many beekeepers as bee pasture.

When the bee tree is in bloom, there is not much else for the bees to get. Almost all late summer plants have already flowered. Of course, the bee tree not only feeds the bees, but also many other useful insects, which it helps with nectar and pollen in winter care. Birds also welcome the late addition of the brown-red, oily fruits to their diet. Incidentally, their evodiamine is also used in Chinese medicine and as a dietary supplement for humans.

There are gardeners who have difficulties with planting “East Asian miracle trees” because many an invasive species has come to us through imports, which are spreading excessively and crowding out native plants. However, the bee tree does not appear to be one of the invasive neophytes because it will not spread to us on its own for a number of reasons.

The bee tree is even “doubly eco-friendly” by forcing you to garden in a way that respects nature. It should absolutely not tolerate glyphosate, an active ingredient contained in many weed killers such as Roundup, Permaclean, Glyfos. Glyphosate is also absorbed through the soil. Even if you don’t treat the tree directly, it can turn yellow and stop growing if you use weed killers in the garden.

A plant for patient gardeners

If you have decided that the tree would be an asset to your garden, you should get the first specimen fairly quickly. Because it will be a while before you can enjoy the first blossom. Bee trees are trees, not pansies, and that means they don’t start flowering as soon as they’re planted. Much later – if a breeder tells you that the bee tree starts flowering from the age of 3, you can believe him, but you shouldn’t be disappointed if it still takes about a decade for your bee tree to flower for the first time .

A Look at the “Family Tree”

We have already mentioned some German names for the bee tree – the botanical names are similarly mixed up:

What is certain is that the plant currently has the botanical name Tetradium daniellii. The Tetradium genus, Stinky, is the best fit according to recent research, and the other eight Stinky also grow “in the area,” in eastern and southern Asia and China.

It is also certain that it is a species that belongs to a genus of the rue family.

Otherwise not much is certain, the biologists have cheerfully sorted the thousand-flower shrub back and forth:

  • An English botanist discovered it in 1862 and classified it as yellowwood (Zanthoxylum).
  • In 1886 a competitor added it to the genus Euodia – for which there is no German translation other than Evodia
  • The competitor got it wrong, Euodia grow quite a bit further south, Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands
  • In 1981, the American botanist Hartley took a closer look at the rue family and packed the bee tree with the stinky trees. For unknown reasons, the “daniellii” is reminiscent of a British military doctor who died in 1865.

However, what has just been presented was only the “prevailing opinion”, and many other biologists were happy to name it. You can also encounter the bee tree as Ampacus danielli, Euodia baberi, Euodia delavayi, Euodia henryi, Euodia labordei, Euodia sutchuenensis, Euodia velutina, Euodia vestita, Zanthoxylum bretschneideri and also as Euodia hupehensis.


The bee tree is an exciting and easy-care tree for German gardens when it is adult, which beekeepers have long since discovered as fall food for bees and restaurateurs are increasingly using it to keep beer garden tables free of insects. Plant your bee tree in good time, it will take a while to bloom.

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