One week goes by so quickly, time to explore our tree. Today's tree is one I had heard of but never saw in the nurseries or garden centers. Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum. Last year in the Learning Garden one of the presentations we gave to a group of students included a bit on trees. Sourwood is indeed sour. Not recommending tasting things in the landscape, but this was really sour!
Sourwood is one of our native trees that grow in zones 5-9. A very adaptable tree, it can grow in sun to partial shade. We have some in the LG --they are in the wooded areas. Not easily transplanted it is a desired tree. At maturity typically is 20- 25 feet tall and given the room, 20 feet wide, though it can reach 50- 75 feet tall.
As you wander through the woods the first thing you notice is the interesting bark of this tree. Deep ridges are a bold feature of this tree.
Even on a young tree the beginnings of this interesting bark are getting mapped out.
Given the time of year I took these pictures I was not able to get one of the features of the Sourwood-- white panicles of blooms. These little flowers look like lily of the valley blooms. Bees love these blooms. Sourwood honey is a coveted variety of honey. After the blooms there are brown capsules, seed pods that hang on through the winter. Click here and see some great shots of the blooms in Fairegarden's garden. Thanks Frances!!
To me the leaves are another part of the tree that help me make that identification. The leaves are alternate, deep green, ovate, and large- according to Michael Dirr, 3-8 inches in length. The fall colors on this tree range from deep red to orange to yellow.
Do you have Oxydrendrum arboreum in your area? One certainly worth giving a second look.
Our Sourwood hasn't had a very good fall color for some reason, but here is a photo of the remaining color.
Next week-- Live Oak, Quercus virginiana