Your Source For Xanthoceras Sorbifolium / Shiny Leaf Yellow Horn

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Some of our more mature trees.
Some of our more mature trees.

In an attempt to find an alternative energy bio-diesel source, Maple River Farms came across Xanthoceras Sorbifolium, a northern, cold hardy, oil tree. In 2012 we began establishing our orchard with the hope of integrating this crop into out alternative energy endeavors. At this time we have seeds/nuts and tree seedlings for sale and tea coming soon.

Sets of capsules produced from a tree in our orchard.
Sets of capsules produced from
a tree in our orchard.

During years of growth and working with this tree we discovered that it offers a multitude of cooking and medicinal possibilities. The seeds of Xanthoceras Sorbifolium are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and are used to prepare cooking oil. The leaves can also be used as tea (its protein content is higher than that of black tea), and the caffeine is similar to that of flower tea. Xanthoceras Sorbifolium can also be used in cosmetics and to make biodiesel. Other properties of this plant include cold tolerance, soil resistance, and high seed oil content.

Xanthoceras Sorbifolium has broad development prospects, especially in fields of food, medicine, energy, and ecology. In recent years phytochemistry research has isolated 278 components from different sections of Xanthoceras Sorbifolium, including triterpenoids, flavonoids, phenylpropanoids, steroids, phenols fatty acids, alkaloids, quinones, and others.

Great article from Doña Ana County Cooperative Extension Service.
Great article by a US colegiate researcher at
Doña Ana County Cooperative Extension Service.

The following links explain the potential for this plant...


We offer tree seedlings and seeds/nuts at this time.


50 Seed/Nut Bag
50 Seed/Nut Bag - $17.10
Flat Rate Shipping - $4.05
10 Seed/Nut Bag
10 Seed/Nut Bag - $7.10
Flat Rate Shipping - $4.05
2lb Seed/Nut Bag
2lb Seed/Nut Bag - $200.25
Flat Rate Shipping - $8.90
300 Seed/Nut Bag
300 Seed/Nut Bag - $90.25
Flat Rate Shipping - $5.90

We are selling 10 Xanthoceras Sorbifolium seeds/nuts for $7.10 plus $4.05 flat rate shipping so you can have this rare tree growing in your area. We have 50 seed/nut bags for $17.10 plus $4.05 flat rate shipping. We have 300 seed/nut bags for $90.25 plus $5.90 flat rate shipping. We also have 2lb bags, containing about 800 seeds, available for $200.25 plus $8.90 flat rate shipping.

We ship the seeds/nuts through USPS in a clear/silver resealable bag.

The most successful germination method that we have figured out is by taking the seeds you want to grow and putting them in a zip-lock bag with moist soil. The soil should be at least the same volume as the seeds, plus a little.

Freeze them at least 3 days, then place in a warm location. After about 7 days, the first white tap root will show. Open the bag and push them around with a plastic fork to remove and plant. Then daily check for new growth to plant. About 1/4" of soil on top of the seed is enough. Tap root down. Germination rates vary. Most within 4 weeks, but some longer.

Tree Seedlings:

Individually potted tree seedlings available. They are about 4 - 6 inches tall in 2 inch tree pots.
Seedlings are available for pickup and shipping for $19.95 per tree.

Potted Xanthoceras Sorbifolium Tree Seedling
Potted Xanthoceras Sorbifolium
Tree Seedling

1 Seedling: $30.95 - Shipping Included

2 Seedling: $50.95 - Shipping Included

3 Seedling: $70.95 - Shipping Included

4 Seedling: $90.95 - Shipping Included

5 Seedling or more, please call for shipping quote.

An Idea for a 9 Tree Home Productive Orchard with
Maximum Use of Space with Minimum (Cost) Protective Fencing:

9 tree planting grid with 5 foot spacing.
9 tree planting grid with
5 foot spacing.

A 15' square fenced in enclosure with 9 trees planted on a 5' grid (See Illistration).
Thinning will be required but not for many years.

9 Trees / 5' Grid / 15' Enclosure.
9 Trees / 5' Grid / 15' Enclosure.
9 Trees / 5' Grid / 15' Enclosure.
9 Trees / 5' Grid / 15' Enclosure.

Planting Zones:

USDA hardiness zones 4 - 7

Range: E. Asia - N. China

UK hardiness zone 6


This 9 year old tree produced 20 gallons of capsules containing nuts.
This 9 year old tree produced 20 gallons
of capsules containing nuts.

The following article about Xanthoceras Sorbifolium is very well written. Mark Dwyer wrote this article for Nursery Management magazine. They have given us permission to use their wonderfully informative article on our website...

Blooming in May, the fragrant flowers, appearing on terminal racemes, are white with very light green streaks and a center that age from yellow on the newest flowers to a gorgeous red orange on older flowers. The proliferous flower clusters can be up to 10 inches long and individual flowers are roughly 1 inch in dimeter with five petals.

Xanthoceras Sorbifolium tree in full bloom.
Xanthoceras Sorbifolium
tree in full bloom.

Another common name for this plant is "popcorn shrub" due to the appearance of the flowers upon opening. The duration of bloom is only about two weeks, but it is a gorgeous and memorable display. Plants as young as two to three years old will start to bloom readily. William (Ned) Friedman of the Arnold Arboretum (Harvard University) writes about the value of the yellow to red color shifts in the flowers of Yellow Horn and other woodies with similar flowering characteristic. Ecologists have shown that insects have an innate preference for yellow flowers over red and by targeting the younger with yellow accents; they are assured of more nectar and pollen. Those that have faded to red have likely been visited already. Friedman mentions that this yellow to red color shift has evolved to help steer insects to newly opened flowers.

The fruits, more common on older specimens, are 2 1/2–inch, pear–shaped, leathery capsules. The capsules are initially green and resemble a black walnut husk but later age to a brown and split open into three chambers that contain the glossy, pea–sized black seeds. The half–inch seeds are edible and when roasted, have the flavor of macadamia nuts. The seeds are also used to produce quality cooking oil and aside from being roasted, can be boiled or dried and ground into flour. Apparently, this plant also has edible flowers and foliage which are traditionally boiled in advance of consumption.

Yellow Horn can be found in Beijing, China as a small urban tree and is also commonly found throughout a wide range of other urban settings. There are actually large plantations of Yellow Horn in China as the seeds are showing great promise as a highly suitable biofuel.

Yellow Horn is commonly propagated from seed or cuttings (stem and root suckers). A higher germination rate for the seeds has been observed with three months of cold stratification. Soaking the seeds for 24 hours before sowing combined with scarification is also recommended by some sources.

Capsules opening after harvest
Capsules splitting open after harvesting

The first challenge in growing Yellow Horn initially starts with sourcing it. Finding this plant will certainly be a quest but ultimately worth the time. This unique and beautiful woody plant has impressed those that have grown it over the many years since it was introduced into cultivation.

In the landscape

Many Shiny Leaf Yellowhorn trees in the orchard.
Our Shiny Leaf Yellowhorn orchard.

Yellow Horn doesn't mind slight dampness but is quite sensitive to excessive moisture or heavier soils that stay wet. In general, this plant isn't overly picky about soil although again, drainage is important. A loamy soil would be ideal but isn't essential for the success of this durable woody plant and slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils are just fine. a pH range between 5.5 and 8.5 is recommended. Yellow Horn is very sensitive to too much shade where it will simply not thrive or flower well. A full sun location is ideal as is plenty of summer heat associated with that exposure. This plant has no significant insect or disease problems although coral spot fungus has been observed on occasion.

Keep in mind that Yellow Horn also flowers on old wood so any pruning should be accomplished immediately following the bloom cycle similar to the approach with lilacs (Syringa). An isolated Yellow Horn can still flower and fruit although multiple specimens will assure more significant fruiting.

Whether Yellow Horn is used as a specimen plant, in a mixed border or as spring feature in a prominent location, it certainly deserves broader awareness, availability and enjoyment of its attributes.

Mark Dwyer was the Director of Horticulture as Royal Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin, for 21 years. He has degrees in landscape architecture and urban forestry and now operates a private consulting practice, Landscape Prescriptions by MD.

The kernels are edible raw or see the roasted nut recipe below to lessen the slight bitter after taste.

Roasted Nuts
Roasted Nuts

Roasting Nut Recipe

40 NutsLiquid smoke
16.9 oz bottle water31/2 tablespoons salt

Place nuts in pan cover with salt water mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, continue to boil for 8 minutes. When the 8 minutes is up remove nuts from water, pat dry and place in a pre-heated 350 degrees oven for 8 minutes. After roasting for 8 minutes remove and shell the nuts and put the nutmeat (kernel) in one cup water mixed with a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Soak for 5 minutes remove nuts from solution and toss in salt if desired.

10 Shiny Leaf Yellowhorn contains approximately 100 mg of nervonic acid. Suggested daily dosage of nervonic acid is thought to be between 200-400 mg split between a morning does and an evening dose.

Reservation Request / Inquiry Form:

Ordering Notes:

As of January 24th, we are starting a wait-list for the Yellowhorn Tree Seedlings reservations.
Based on previous reservations following through and nursery propagation will allow us to
fulfill reservations on the wait-list.

Thank you - Don, Property Manager: Maple River Farms.

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On early reservations you may change order quantities and ship date at any time by contacting our office
by phone or email or change it when you fill out the shopping cart after January 15th.
Phone: (989)743-4344    Email:

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Please pick a reception date between March 11th, 2024 and Octoberr 31st, 2024.
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Product Name Quantity Unit Price Cost
One Xanthoceras Sorbifolium Tree
This Item For Pick Up Only
1 Tree Pack Shiping Included 30.95       
2 Tree Pack Shiping Included 50.95       
3 Tree Pack Shiping Included 70.95       
4 Tree Pack Shiping Included 90.95       
If you wish to order larger quantities of
Xanthoceras Sorbifolium Trees, please use the
"Questions or Comments" section or call our office
for a quote on bulk order shipping.
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