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Horsesugar Symplocos tinctoria

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sim-PLOH-kos tink-TOR-ee-ah
Description

Sweetleaf is a tardy deciduous shrub or small tree that may grow 20 feet tall. In nature, it can be found in moist bottomland forests, pocosin edges, mesic forests, ridgetop forests, and sandhills. The leaves are alternate with a smooth margin and yellow underside. The leaves are edible and sweet to the taste. In early spring, small, white flowers mature. The small tree produces a 1/2-inch, orange-brown drupe that matures in late summer. Best planted in naturalized areas with access to full to partial sun. 

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest: 

Blooms:  Early spring, spring            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

 

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#yellow#small tree#full sun#partial shade#shrub#semi-evergreen#acidic soil#wildlife plant#partial sun#showy#native tree#yellow flowers#tree#piedmont#native shrub#cover plant#spring flowers#flowering tree#coastal#small mammals#moist soil#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#large shrub#full sun flowers#flowering shrub#full sunlight#cream flowers#yellow fruits#native garden#creamy white#mountains#coastal plant#summer interest#coast#coastal areas#spring interest#acidic soil tolerant#pollinator plant#edible leaves#naturalized area#orange fruits#early spring flowers#larval host plant#summer fruits#food source summer#deciduous tree#cover#mid-spring flowers#nectar plant spring#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source soft-mast fruit#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#native#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#dry soils tolerant#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#butterfly larvae#nectar plant early spring#part sun#part shade#songbirds#larval host tree#flowering#flower#host#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#audubon#woodlands#king’s hairstreak butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Symplocos
    Species:
    tinctoria
    Family:
    Symplocaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & South East U.S.A
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It also provides nectar for pollinators and supports King's Hairstreak (Satyrium kingi) larvae which feed on the leaf buds and leaves. The adults have one flight from May-July and feed off of nectar from Allegheny chinquapin and sourwood. Adult butterflies enjoy the nectar from the blooms in the spring. Fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals.
    Edibility:
    The foliage has a sweet taste.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit displays in late summer. In North Carolina, the fruits are available from August to September.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Compact clusters of small, fragrant, cream-colored borne in profusion along the branches of the previous season's growth. Numerous stamens make the blooms particularly showy. In North Carolina, flowers are available from March to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Simple green alternate leaves with smooth margins and yellow undersides. Some leaves may remain on the tree until springtime.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Bumpy
    Lenticels
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth and grayish brown to green initially. Warty lenticels and shallow pits develop as the tree ages.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    A short trunk with an open crown of spreading branches.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Small Space
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade