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Oxydendrum arboreum

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Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Trees, Deciduous

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, rich, loam

Height: 30'-60'

Bloom Time: June, July

Bloom Color: white

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: attracts bees, fall interest, fragrant flowers, showy fruit

Fall Foliage of Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
  • Fall Foliage of Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
  • Fall Foliage of Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
  • Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
  • Leaves of Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)

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Description

Oxydendrum arboreum

Also known as:

sourwood

,

sorrel tree

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Sourwood is an understory, medium-sized tree that can occasionally grow taller than 50'. The glossy, green leaves are lance-shaped and resemble those of peach trees. They turn brilliant red or crimson in fall. The lightly fragrant, bell-shaped flowers are reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley, and appear in early summer along clusters of terminal racemes. These give way to seed capsule than will remain long after the foliage has fallen, providing good winter interest to this graceful tree.

Cultivation

Native to the southern Appalachian and Smokey Mountains, Oxydendrum arboreum enjoys rich, well drained acidic soil. Though it is adapted to part-shade, it will produce a denser and more pyramidal shape in full sun. A sunnier exposure will also guaranty more flowers and better fall foliage. This tree is not drought tolerant, and will not do well in polluted urban environments, nor in high foot traffic areas where the soil is compacted. Blooms in June or July. Zones 5-8

Propagation

Easy to propagate by seed. A protected, controlled environment is recommend for seedlings. It can also be propagated from softwood cuttings.

Additional Notes

Sourwood is attractive to bees. These will produce a highly prized, local honey. Both the common and botanical name of this tree, were inspired by the sour taste of its leaves. Oxys means sour, and dendron means tree in Greek.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: MD
  • Threatened: IN

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Ericales
Family Ericaceae Heath family
Genus Oxydendrum sourwood
Species Oxydendrum arboreum sourwood