Plant DetailShow Menu

Beaked Stewartia Stewartia rostrata

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Stewartia glabra
  • Stewartia sinensis var. rostrata
Phonetic Spelling
stew-ART-ee-ah ro-STRAY-tah
Description

The beaked Stewartia is a deciduous, ornamental, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree. The crown is pyramidal and evolves into an oval shape. The plant may reach a height of 13 to 33 feet tall and 8 to 13 feet wide. White Camellia-like blooms appear from May to July, and the red woody beaked capsule fruits appear in September. The bark has furrows and ridges, and unlike the Chinese Stewartia, it does not peel. The plant is a member of the Theaceae family and is related to the Camellia. This low-maintenance plant is grown for its ornamental value.

The beaked Stewartia is native to South Central and Southeastern China. It may be found in forests and along streams. 

The genus's name, Stewartia, is in honor of John Stuart who was a 16th-century Scottish botanist. The spelling was the result of a transcription error. During the 19th-century, the name Stuartia was used; however, the original spelling is now accepted. The species name, rostrata, is Latin and means "beaked curved, or hooked." This refers to the appearance of the fruit.

Plant this tree in fertile, well-drained, acidic, moist soil in partial sun to filtered shade. It does not tolerate drought and needs protection from winds. It can be a bit fussy and is difficult to transplant. They prefer the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of 6a to 7 b, The plant may be propagated by seeds, softwood cuttings, or semi-hardwood cuttings.

The bark is grayish-brown, and the twigs are reddish-brown. The leaves are dark green during the spring and summer and transition to red in the fall. Blooms appear as white solitary flowers that sometimes have a pink flush and golden stamens in the center. The beaked capsule has five segments with four seeds per segment.

This flowering shrub or small tree may be considered for use in shady cottage gardens, informal gardens, courtyards, or woodland settings

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage: Fall            Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer      Fruit:  Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • bark light gray to dark grayish-brown with furrows and ridges
  • dark green ovate leaves
  • fall foliage red to scarlet
  • white flowers sometimes flushed with pink, Camellia-like with golden stamens in the center
  • fruit is a red to brownish capsule with a long beak

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems:  The plant has no serious disease or pest problems. The beaked Stewartia does not like to be transplanted or disturbed. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Hulsdonk Pink'
    Flowers are a soft pink
  • 'Pink Satin'
    Flowers have a pink corolla fading to white
  • 'Yoakemae Nishiki'
    Irregular white areas on the foliage
'Hulsdonk Pink', 'Pink Satin', 'Yoakemae Nishiki'
Tags:
#cultivars#deciduous#small tree#white flowers#pyramidal#deciduous shrub#gray bark#cottage garden#flowering tree#upright form#multistemmed#spreading#flowering shrub#red fruits#fruits fall#summer interest#spring interest#pollinator plant#courtyard garden#fall color red#bee friendly#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Hulsdonk Pink'
    Flowers are a soft pink
  • 'Pink Satin'
    Flowers have a pink corolla fading to white
  • 'Yoakemae Nishiki'
    Irregular white areas on the foliage
'Hulsdonk Pink', 'Pink Satin', 'Yoakemae Nishiki'
Tags:
#cultivars#deciduous#small tree#white flowers#pyramidal#deciduous shrub#gray bark#cottage garden#flowering tree#upright form#multistemmed#spreading#flowering shrub#red fruits#fruits fall#summer interest#spring interest#pollinator plant#courtyard garden#fall color red#bee friendly#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Stewartia
    Species:
    rostrata
    Family:
    Theaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern China
    Distribution:
    Native: South Central China and Southeast China
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees are attracted to the flowers.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 13 ft. 0 in. - 33 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 13 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    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:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a red capsule with a long beak. As the fruit matures, the color changes to brown. The capsule is divided into five segments, opening at the tip. Each segment contains four seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are about 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter. They are solitary with white petals and golden stamens in the center. Sometimes the petals have a pink flush. They bloom from late spring to early summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Papery
    Rubbery
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green, simple, glossy, and papery. The leaf shape is ovate to elliptic with tapering tips and rounded bases. The margins are serrate. The leaf measures 2 to 4 inches long and 1 to 1.5 inches wide. The upper surface of the leaf is smooth. The lower surface of the leaf has fine hairs along the midvein. The fall foliage is red.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    The bark is slate gray to grayish-brown with furrows and ridges. The bark does not exfoliate.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Scaly
    Stem Bud Scales:
    Enclosed in more than 2 scales
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The branches are ascending. The winter buds have fine hairs and scales.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees