Oxydendrum arboreum, Sourwood

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic 

Though native to parts of the Mid-Atlantic Region,* Sourwood is more common in the South, including Virginia’s southern half. In residential landscapes, this decorative tree offers year-round appeal: lily-of-the-valley-like flowers, breathtakingly brilliant fall foliage, persistent fruit capsules and reddish color twigs.

Print Version: Oxydendrum arboreum, Sourwood MGNVorg Oxydendrum arboreum


Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets.

Tags: Slow-growing, deciduous tree with straight trunk & irregular, some-what pyramidal habit Finely-toothed, oblong glossy green leaves Showy, fragrant white bell-shaped flowers on 6- to 8-inch spikelets from June to July Persistent light yellow to grayish fruit capsules Brilliant fall foliage from shades of red to eggplant Green and red twigs; drooping branches; deeply furrowed and ridged gray bark on mature trees Attributes Intolerant of dense shade, lime soil, compacted soil, root disturbance, poor drainage, flooding, drought, and air pollution; no serious pests or diseases; deer seldom severely damage except for new growth Winter interest Ethnobotanic, bees produce a choice, highly valued honey from the flower nectar Attracts bees and wasps, Growing and Maintenance Tips Excellent Replacement for Soil Requirements: Acidic, well-drained soil Acer ginnala – Amur Maple Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Ailanthus altissima – Tree of Heaven Water Requirements: Moist Paulownia tomentosa – Princess Tree More prolific flowers/colorful foliage w/ more sun Vitex agnus-castus – Chaste Tree Use as ornamental specimen, patio tree *Though not native to DC or NoVA, it is indigenous to a few counties in MD and PA, besides the southern half of VA. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9 developed