Bloom Day July 2013: Oxydendrum arboreum, Sourwood

I’ve been noticing this little tree on NE 33rd Avenue at the corner of NE Going Street. It’s as though a spotlight shines on it and it never fails to catch my eye as I drive by.


Seems like I have been noticing it for a few weeks at least, which feels like a nice long bloom period.

I stopped this week to take some photos, and the home owner called my attention to the fragrance of the flowers.  I was so busy admiring its good looking form and blooms that I had not noticed. He told me this Sourwood started out as a potted tree, but then was moved to the curbside planting strip where it seems to be doing just fine.  He says it is slow growing. I learned also from him that the fall foliage color is red, another merit for this sweet tree.

IMG_5333     IMG_5325

The urn-shape flowers are a clue that this tree is in the heath family, Ericaceae, members which include azalea, rhododendron, madrone, blueberries, to name a few.


On two separate visits to take photos, I noticed bees nestled here and there throughout the tree.

IMG_5338   IMG_5353


Here’s what Portland Nursery tells us about this tree, Oxydendrum arboreum:

  • Prefers summer water and well drained, acid soil
  • Hardy to Zone 5
  • Native to Eastern US
  • Sun to part shade
  • Mature height 25 to 30 feet in garden settings

For more Bloom Day fun, head on over to our host at May Dreams Gardens.

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14 Responses to Bloom Day July 2013: Oxydendrum arboreum, Sourwood

  1. Julie Fukuda says:

    I find it fascinating that the home owner is involved with the tree. What a lucky tree that is, appreciated and well cared for. It has a nice spreading shape for such a wimpy crooked trunk

  2. Nell Jean says:

    I’ve always heard that Sourwood makes good honey.

  3. Hoov says:

    Beautiful and graceful little tree. Thanks for finding this one, I’m not familiar with it. The little bell flowers remind me of Manzanita or Arbutus. Sweet!

  4. I love that tree! I too look for it every time I drive by and it does have fabulous fall color.

  5. Ricki Grady says:

    We shopped for a very special tree to memorialize a beloved cat. This was it! Alas, this year it turned toes up after having been pampered along for fifteen years (it was still only about 5′ tall). There are new shoots coming up from the roots, but with its rate of growth I fear we will not live to see it reach a mature size. Hard to find a more lovely tree, though.

  6. annamadeit says:

    Love the little lantern flowers! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tree like this one! Thanks for the education!

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