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