A medium-sized tree, the sourwood shines in the summer and fall. Its midsummer flowers appear like lilies-of-the-valley, are highly fragrant, and contrast nicely against the green foliage. Then in the fall, leaves turn intensely beautiful shades of brilliant crimson, purplish-red and sometimes yellow. This tree shines in landscaping as a specimen in a lawn, a garden feature, an ornamental addition to larger trees or a clump in a large, open space.
- Blooms from June to early July, with fragrant white flowers on drooping stalks
- Provides great fall color, with leaves turning crimson, purplish-red, and yellow
- Prefers full sun
- Will be delivered at a height of 2’–3′
- The Sourwood grows in zones 5-9
- Mature Height: 25’–30′
- Mature Spread: N/A–20′
- Growth Rate: Medium
- Shape: Oval
- Sun Preference: Full Sun
- Soil Preference: Acidic, Clay, Drought-tolerant, Loamy, Moist, Sandy, Well-drained
- Wildlife Value: Deer browse sourwood twigs and leaves. Gourmet honey is produced by the many bees that are attracted to the nectar-laden flowers.
A native tree of North America, the sourwood is one of the few endemic trees that is not found in other continents unless planted and has no related species. The name Sourwood is derived from the acrid taste of its leaves, but tea made from these leaves is widely used by mountain climbers as a thirst-quencher. Pioneers used the sap as one ingredient in a concoction used for treating fevers; the bark for chewing to soothe mouth pains; and leaf tea for treating diarrhea, indigestion and dysentery. But the best known by-product of the Sourwood tree is the hard-to-find and extremely delicious honey that bees produce from the fragrant blossoms.
It goes by many other common or local names including sorrel tree, sorrel gum, sour gum, arrow wood, elk tree, lily-of-the-valley tree and titi tree.