10 Small Trees

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
While the leaves may look pretty in all their colored glory, they're actually quite sour.
While the leaves may look pretty in all their colored glory, they're actually quite sour.

This graceful tree reaches 30 feet (9 meters) and has a narrow, rounded crown and drooping branches that fall in in a pyramid shape.

In summer, fragrant lily-of-the-valley-like flowers appear and then turn into greenish yellow seed pods.

In autumn, the glossy green leaves turn yellow, red and purple. It's the largest member of the azalea family and grows natively from southern Illinois to Louisiana and Florida. Sourwood gets it name from the sour taste of the leaves, which were once brewed up for medicinal purposes. Today, juice from its flowers is used to make sourwood jelly.

Related Articles


  • The American Boxwood Society. http://www.boxwoodsociety.org/about_boxwood.htm
  • Arbor Day Foundation. http://www.arborday.org/Trees/TreeGuide/TreeDetail.cfm?ID=99
  • Begeman, John. "The Best Small Trees for Desert Landscapes." College of Agriculture and Life
  • Commercial Boxwood Production. Dept. Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-407.html.
  • Cornus Alternifolia Fact Sheet. Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. http://www.cnr.vt.edu/DENDRO/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=146
  • Crabapple, Sargent, Malus sargentii. Arbor Day Foundation. http://www.arborday.org/trees/treeGuide/TreeDetail.cfm?id=450
  • Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson. "Fact Sheet ST-5."U.S. Forest Service. http://hort.ufl.edu/trees/ACAFARA.pdfhttp://web.reed.edu/trees/TreePages/ACER.html
  • Hawthorn, Washington. Arbor Day Foundation. http://www.arborday.org/trees/treeGuide/TreeDetail.cfm?id=8
  • Japanese Maple Fact Sheet. North Carolina State University. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/acer_palmatum.html
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The University of Texas at Austin. http://wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ACFA
  • Oxydendrum Arboreum Fact Sheet. North Carolina State University. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/oxydendrum_arboreum.html
  • Plant Database. University of Connecticut. http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/c/coralt/coralt1.html
  • Sargent Crabapple Fact Sheet. University of Rhode Island Horticulture Landscape Program. http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/sargcrabapple.html
  • Sciences, the University of Arizona. Nov. 13, 2005.http://ag.arizona.edu/gardening/news/articles/17.33.html
  • The United States National Arboretum. http://www.usna.usda.gov/Newintro/magnoli1.html


How Do Christmas Trees Get Their Shape?

How Do Christmas Trees Get Their Shape?

Ever wonder how Christmas trees get their conical shape? HowStuffWorks delves into the shaping process.

More to Explore