Sourwood Tree

By: C. Colston Burrell
A yellow and pink tree.
The sourwood tree has glossy, sour-tasting leaves. Juan Silva / Getty Images

Sourwood tree is an outstanding native tree of North America, a sweet sight to see east of the Mississippi River in every season. Its glossy, sour tasting, springtime leaves were once used as a medicinal tonic. Deer love to munch on the bright red, slender, sour twigs.

Description of sourwood tree: Sourwood's average height is 30 feet, with a rounded crown and spreading shape, featuring gracefully dipping branchlets. The 10-inch long panicles of nodding, white, bell-shaped summer flowers, similar to the lily-of-the-valley, are fragrant. This tree has vivid red autumn foliage and tiny, woody fruit that persists into fall. The dark, thick, furrowed bark is a major winter asset.


Growing sourwood tree: Sourwood will be undaunted by pests, diseases, or minor cultural problems if it gets the well-drained, acid soil it requires. Its roots are shallow and easily disturbed, so plant from young, balled-and-burlapped stock. It is best transplanted in spring, and kept well-watered

and mulched until established. Avoid air-polluted environments.

Uses for sourwood tree: Sourwood is outstanding as a focal point, a patio tree, or fronting taller trees.

Sourwood tree related species and varieties: There are no related species or varieties.

Scientific name for sourwood tree: Oxydendrum arboreum


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