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Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)

Oxydendrum arboreum Photo/Illustration: Micheal Dirr


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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Botanical Name: Oxydendrum arboreum oks-ih-DEN-drum ar-BOR-ee-um Common Name: Sourwood Genus: Oxydendrum
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.
Noteworthy characteristics: Glossy leaves with good fall color; fragrant flowers in late summer; decorative seed heads. U.S. native.
Care: Grow in moist, well-drained, acidic soil in full sun or partial shade (blooms best in full sun). It prefers a reasonably protected site. Prune only to maintain a healthy framework.
Propagation: Sow seed in a cold frame in autumn. In summer, take semi-ripe cuttings.
Problems: Leaf spots.
Height Over 30 ft.
Spread 15 ft. to 30 ft.
Growth Habit Clumps
Growth Pace Slow Grower
Light Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture Medium Moisture
Maintenance Low
Tolerance Frost Tolerant
Characteristics Fragrant Flowers; Interesting Bark; Native; Showy Fall Foliage; Showy Flowers; Showy Foliage; Showy Seed Heads
Bloom Time Late Summer
Flower Color White Flower
Uses Beds and Borders, Flowering Tree, Naturalizing, Specimen Plant/ Focal Point, Waterside
Style Meadow Garden, Woodland Garden
Seasonal Interest Winter Interest, Summer Interest, Fall Interest
Type Trees

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