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Oxydendrum arboreum

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 narrow oblong crown. In the wild, it may reach 50-60’ tall. Gray bark on mature trees is fissured, ridged and scaly.

This tree is moderately salt tolerant.

 

Seasons of Interest: 

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

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Leaf spot and twig blight infrequently occur on the Sourwood tree.

Cultivars:
  • 'Chameleon'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#deciduous#pollinators#songbirds#flowers#wildlife plant#showy#attracts bees#salt tolerant#attracts birds#flowering#reptiles#insects#cpp#low flammability#bats#amphibians#deer resistant#fire resistant
Cultivars:
  • 'Chameleon'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#deciduous#pollinators#songbirds#flowers#wildlife plant#showy#attracts bees#salt tolerant#attracts birds#flowering#reptiles#insects#cpp#low flammability#bats#amphibians#deer resistant#fire resistant
  • 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.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Wildlife Enhancement
    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
    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
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Flower panicle stems remain in place as the flowers give way to 5-parted 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:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    The Sourwood has waxy, lily-of-the-valley-like, white flowers that bloom on slender, drooping, one-sided terminal panicles (4-8” long) in early summer. The flowers have a slight fragrance
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Sourwood has alternate, simple, finely-toothed, glossy green leaves (to 5-8” long) reminiscent of a peach leaf. They have a sour taste, hence the common name. They produce consistently excellent fall color, typically turning crimson red.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    Gray bark on mature trees is fissured, ridged and scaly.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt