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This is a fast-growing, upright deciduous tree with delicate white flowers in early summer. As it matures, it develops a spectacular patchwork of bark in shades of gray, maroon, and brown. Oblong dark green leaves turn red-orange in autumn. Cultivar 'Fantasy' is vigorous and hardier than the species, with exceptional bark.
The tiered branches of this fast-growing species are covered with white blossoms for over a month, starting in late summer. The flowers fade to reveal fuchsia calyxes that persist well into autumn. The pale, peeling bark can be exposed by pruning the lower branches of the interior. Although the form of the species is variable (single or multi-stemmed), it can usually be pruned into an elegant vase-shaped specimen, or maintained as a shrub.
Sourwood, the lone species of the genus, is found in woodlands and along streams of eastern North America. This plant (named for the sour taste of its leaves) forms a pyramidal tree to 30 feet tall, with canoe-shaped, glossy leaves that turn vivid maroon, yellow, or purple in autumn. In late summer, its delicate panicles of fragrant, urn-shaped flowers spray forward, decorating the tree in white. The blossoms, which resemble lily-of-the-valley, are followed by yellowish seed capsules that turn brown and persist into winter. It makes an outstanding specimen both for a prominent position and also for a naturalized setting.
This glorious conifer constitutes the sole member of both its genus and plant family. It is without a peer in its beauty; on a mature specimen, its rich needles compose a sculpture of form, texture, and color that is unrivaled. The foliage develops a bronzy tint in winter. While it often grows to 30 feet in cultivation and 90 feet in the wild, its slow-growing nature inspires patience.
Chaste tree is a southern favorite beginning to gain favor across the country. Whether left to grow as a large, multistemmed shrub or cut back annually for a more compact look, this selection is a winner. Fine, lacy leaves are glossy and green. Bright blue flower panicles begin to form in early summer and continue through the heat of the season and into fall. This is a reasonably cold-hardy, deer-resistant woody plant, and while V. agnus-castus is typically considered a Zone 7 plant, the variety latifolia can be grown in Zone 6 and even in southern areas of Zone 5.
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