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 October Spotlight:
Sourwood Tree

Sourwood Tree
Oxydendrum arboretum

The Sourwood, native to eastern United States, is an underused tree in the landscape. One of our finest flowering trees it has year-round interest. The vivid colored autumn leaves of orange and scarlet is the distinguishing feature that most people remember. This graceful deciduous tree has a pyramidal shape, rounded crown and slightly drooping branches. The bark is dark and blocky (alligator hide). The leaves are long, narrow and are glossy green resembling peach leaves. Sourwood grows slowly to 1530 feet tall so it can be planted in smaller yards. 

In June, fragrant white Lily-of-the-Valley like flowers blooms for 3 - 4 weeks. In autumn the seed capsules extend downward and persist into the winter. Grow this tree in full sun or light shade for best flowering and fall color. It grows best in well drained and acid soils with a ph of 4 to 6. The Sourwood is resistant to pests and diseases. Its name, Sourwood, refers to the sour taste of the leaves.

Not only do we get year round beauty from the Sourwood tree, the blossom nectar yields a prized honey. Medium amber in color, sourwood honey does not crystallize. It is a rare honey with a big local following, found only here in the southern United States. I prize the four sourwood trees growing in my yard.
  
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