Sourwood Tree Facts: Habitat, Growth And Care Explained | Kidadl


Sourwood Tree Facts: Habitat, Growth And Care Explained

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Sourwood is a beautiful ornamental tree with dark green colored leaves that change its appearance to a beautiful bright red fall color during autumn.

Have you heard of the famous sourwood honey? Sourwood tree is the source for that delicious treat, with its sweet-smelling blooms feeding the bees inhabiting its branches. The tree is a favorite among bee communities!

Sourwood tree, also known as a sorrel tree, elk tree, titi tree, arrowwood, and sorrel gum, is a deciduous type of tree. This tall heightened tree has an average height of about 75 ft (23 m). The gorgeous trees offer visually appealing features with their growth every season. From a beautiful blooming tree with flowers resembling the lily of the valley to the leaves taking a breathtaking fall color with a change in season, the sourwood tree is one of the most loved trees. The versatility of the sourwood tree impresses many people, but planting and taking care of the saplings through their growth is something only few people are dedicated to.

Classification Of Sourwood Tree

Sourwood tree grows as a large shrub and then into a tall tree through the years, attaining an approximate height of 33-66 ft (10-20 m).

The sourwood tree, scientifically known as Oxydendrum arboreum, is the only species of the genus Oxydendrum from the Ericaceae family. The beneficial plant is both soothing for eyes and physical health as it has various medicinal properties. The sorrel tree has been considered a threatened species in many North American states. The plant is native to Eastern regions of North America, most commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains chain. The tree is spread across the regions from Southern Pennsylvania to Florida's Northwest and West to the southern areas of Illinois.

Planting Sourwood Trees

If you wish to plant a sourwood tree, start by collecting the capsules from the tree during the month of September or October. These capsules contain tiny seeds you can use to sow a sourwood plant.

Extract these seeds and spread them in a moist, seed-starting mix. Do not cover them, but put a container over them to create room for moisture. Place the mix with the container under a warm, moist space and leave it to germinate. You can plant these in your lawn or garden when the seeds germinate. Choose a space that receives the most sunlight. Full sun is good for the growth of sourwood. Along with the sun, sourwood loves acidic soil, so use acidic soil to sow the plant, and you will soon receive good results!

Sourwood's fragrant flowers are excellent for bees.

Physical Features Of Sourwood Tree

Sourwood tree is a tall tree used by multiple wildlife species as a shelter. Its bark has gray color with hints of red and a hard, deeply-furrowed scaly texture. The bark and branches initially have a light yellow and green color which changes with time to turn the bark and branches into a brown, gray, and reddish tinge. Sourwood blooms flowers once a year in the period of mid-June to late July for a span of three weeks.

The appearance of sourwood tree flowers closely resembles the lily of the valley, and it has a sweet aroma that attracts bees known for making the sourwood honey. Aside from being a treat to eyes with fall color and dark green leaves, the sourwood plant has healing properties. Tea made out of sourwood plant leaves and flowers can cure various disease problems, including asthma, nausea, and fever. Mountain climbers often use the leaves from sourwood trees to chew on their way or make tea out of it as a thirst quencher.

Taking Care Of Sourwood Tree

Bright sunlight is a must for sourwood trees.

Both mature trees and small sourwood plants thrive under full sun, so decide a place which receives the most sun. Sourwood trees are intolerant to dry weather; keep them hydrated throughout the months. These simple practices are enough for the plant to thrive as a healthy, vibrant species.


Why is it called sourwood?

Sourwood finds its name through the sour taste of its leaves.

What is a sourwood tree?

The sourwood tree is a deciduous type of ornamental tree used as a major habitat for many species and is best known for inhabiting sourwood honey-making bees.

Are sourwood trees messy?

Yes, sourwood trees are one of the messy trees continuously dropping their leaves and flowers.

When does sourwood bloom?

The blooming period for sourwood trees is from June to early July.

How fast do sourwood trees grow?

Sourwood trees have a medium growth pattern experiencing an increase of 13–24 ft (3.96-7.31 m) per year.

Are sourwood trees hard to grow?

It can get difficult to grow this native tree at home in lawns. Still, it is possible with highly regulated growing conditions that include well-drained sandy-clay soil, with acidic nature and a moist atmosphere.

Do sourwood trees smell?

Sourwood trees do not emit or have any smell, but the blooming flowers carry a sweet smell, while its leaves are sour when tasted.

Why is a Sourwood tree called Sourwood?

Sourwood tree bears sour leaves and hence finding its name.

How do you fertilize a sourwood tree?

Fertilization for sourwood trees starts a year after its establishment. A year later, after the sourwood tree loses its leaves during the fall, you can use fertilizer specific to acid-loving plants.

Where do sourwood trees grow the best?

Sourwood trees grow well in zone five to nine, with the presence of well-drained soil acidic in nature and prefer full sun.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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