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The Plant Guide

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Franklin tree

Franklinia alatamaha

frank-LIN-ee-ah ah-lah-tah-MAH-hah Audio

Discovered in the wild along Georgia's Altamaha River in 1765 by botanists John and William Bartram, this beautiful landscape tree is considered extinct in the wild. The Bartrams named the plant in honor of their friend Benjamin Franklin. All Franklinias today are descended from those propagated by the Bartrams in their Philadelphia garden. It is a deciduous, understory tree with an upright habit. It can be grown as a single-trunked tree or a multi-stemmed shrub. The fragrant white flowers have bushy yellow stamens and the leaves are dark green and glossy, turning orange, red, and purple in the fall. It blooms in late summer and early autumn, when few other trees are in flower. The fruit that follows is woody and spherical. Franklin tree makes a great addition to an open area of a woodland garden.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsGlossy foliage and good fall color. Beautiful, camellia-like flowers that are fragrant and bloom late in the season. Native.

CareGrow in organically rich, moist but very well-drained soil of acidic to neutral pH, in full sun. Resents transplanting and should not be disturbed in the landscape.

PropagationSow seed as soon as ripe at 50° to 64°F. Root softwood cuttings in summer using bottom heat.

ProblemsWilt and root rot can be serious problems, and Japanese beetles may eat the flowers.

  • Genus : Franklinia
  • Plant Height : 10 to 15 feet
  • Plant Width : 10 to 15 feet
  • Zones : 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Bloom Time : Fall, Late Summer, Summer
  • Characteristics : Fragrant Flowers, Showy Fall Foliage, Showy Foliage
  • Light : Full Sun
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Growth Rate : Moderate
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
  • Flower Color : White, Yellow
View Comments


  1. user-7007518 04/17/2015

    I planted an established (about 3 ft tall) Franklinia about three years ago, and it hasn't grown at all and only has sparse leaves. It seems healthy, just doesn't get any bigger or leafier and makes just one or two flowers. Is it normally this slow growing?
    I was told to leave it alone, no fertilizer or anything. I do add coffee grounds around the top a couple times a year and it gets plenty of water.

    1. e_kiser 05/28/2017

      They like acidic well drained moist soil. I use grass clippings on mine to keep the soil moist (I have several). I am a decedent of the Bartram Family. The tea is amazing! The tree you see there is 2 years old. Mine have grown 16-24 inches per year. They will do better if you cut the root suckers in the spring (propagate them!)

      1. user-7008965 10/23/2017

        Ms./Mr. Kiser,,
        I am interested to learn about propagating a franklinia tree. I am a Township Supervisor in Lower Makefield Township, PA. We have a prized franklinia tree at the Slate Hill Cemetery (on National Register of Historic Places). It was somewhat compromised when another tree fell uopn it. I would like to propagate to make sure it continues to survive in our Township. Can you help me to do so? Many thanks,
        Kristin Tyler

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