This lone species of the genus is found in woodlands and along streams of eastern North America. Sourwood (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 CharacteristicsThis superb native species provides four-season interest with its glossy leaves, rhythmic blossoms, and fantastic autumn color.
CareGrow in moist, well-drained, acidic soil in full sun or partial shade (It blooms better in full sun). It prefers a reasonably protected site. Prune only to maintain a healthy framework.
PropagationSow seed in a cold frame in autumn and, in summer, take semi-ripe cuttings.