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Oxydendrum arboreum

Previously known as:

  • Andromeda arborea
  • Lyonia arborea
Phonetic Spelling
ok-see-DEN-drum ar-BOR-ee-um
Description

The Oxydendrum arboreum is a beautiful small specimen flowering tree with multi-season interest for lawns, patios, shade gardens or open woodland areas. It is perhaps most commonly found on rocky wooded slopes in the Appalachian Mountains, often growing in combination with other heath family members (e.g., azaleas and rhododendrons) that share the same acidic soil preferences. In cultivation, it typically grows 20-25’ tall with a straight, slender trunk and rounded to pyramidal crown and pendulous branches.  In the wild, it may reach 50-60’ tall. 

This prefers acidic, well-drained high organic matter soils in the full sun to patrial shade.  It makes an excellent specimen or understory tree or planted in small groups in a woodland garden.  It is  moderately salt tolerant.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves:  Fall    Bloom:  Summer     Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Fall webworm is an occasional problem. Leaf spot and twig blight infrequently occur on the Sourwood tree.  This plant does not like to be transplanted so only do so with young plants.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Chameleon'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#deciduous#birds#songbirds#specimen#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#salt tolerant#winter interest#fall interest#understory tree#flowering#flowering tree#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#reptiles#cpp#low flammability#insect pest tolerant#bats#amphibians#deer resistant#children's garden#fire resistant#woodland#small groups#pollinator plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Chameleon'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#deciduous#birds#songbirds#specimen#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#salt tolerant#winter interest#fall interest#understory tree#flowering#flowering tree#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#reptiles#cpp#low flammability#insect pest tolerant#bats#amphibians#deer resistant#children's garden#fire resistant#woodland#small groups#pollinator plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Oxydendrum
    Species:
    arboreum
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern and southern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insects. Natural hollows in these trees are refuge for climbing reptiles and amphibians, bats and other small wildlife. Old fall webworm tents attract invertebrates that birds often eat during late fall and winter. Flowers are quite attractive to bees and the honey is highly sought after.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Buffer
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire. Moderately resistant to deer damage.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    5-parted dehiscent dry capsules that ripen to silver-gray in September. Capsules contrast well with the red fall color and provide continuing ornamental interest after leaf drop into winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Waxy, lily-of-the-valley-like, white bell-shaped flowers that bloom on slender, drooping, one-sided terminal panicles (4-8” long) in early summer. The flowers themselves have a slight fragrance and are 1/4" long. The panicles persist after flowers drop and resemble long fingers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, simple, finely-toothed, glossy green leaves (5-8” long to 1"-3" wide) entire to serrate margin shiny and glossy, reminiscent of a peach leaf. Cuneate base, acuminate apex. They have a sour taste, hence the common name. They produce consistently excellent fall color, typically turning crimson red but sometimes yellow and purple.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    Dark gray bark on mature trees is has light gray fissures, ridged and scaly, becomes blocky with age.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Fire
    Salt