Known primarily for its spectacular spring floral display, the Flowering Dogwood shines as a small understory tree in the native landscape. Reaching up to 30 feet tall, this Green Ribbon Native tree grows well in shade, but will flaunt even more white blossoms in full sun. Not only does this small tree provide interest in spring but also presents striking red berries and maroon foliage in fall followed by architectural lines and interesting bark in winter. While this tree grows well in many locations, it prefers to grow in moist, acidic soils and in full sun. Flowering Dogwood is a perfect native specimen tree for the home landscape or can easily integrate in a native woodland setting.
The American born botanist, John Bartram discovered this unique understory tree in 1765 and named it in honor of Benjamin Franklin. This amazing tree was seen only along the bank of the Altamaha River in Georgia and today no longer exists in the wild. As the sightings of the Franklinia became more and more rare, the ones in Bartram’s home garden in Philadelphia flourished. The cupped, bright white-petaled fragrant blossom has a yolk yellow center resembling a fried egg. Nearing summer’s end, our Franklinia,tucked in along the white pine trees blooms down by our Pond, blooms profusely and is often smelled before seen. And the deep ruby red fall color is stunning. Truly, an award winning tree. Found in Zones 5 to 8.
The fringetree is a small tree or shrub ranging in height from 12 to 20 feet with an equal spread. The common name refers to the slightly fragrant, spring-blooming flowers which feature drooping clusters (4-6” long) of fringe-like, creamy white petals that appear from May to June. It is dioecious (meaning separate male and female plants) and the male flowers are the showiest. The flowers give way to clusters of olive-like fruits which ripen to a dark, bluish black color in late summer and become a food source for birds and other wildlife. The wide, spear-shaped leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Fringetree grows in moist, fertile soils across hardiness zones 3 to 9. It is best planted as a front lawn specimen or as a shrub or woodland borders. It is also tolerant of pollution and adapts well to urban settings in both full sun and partial shade. The fringetree is terrific in native plant gardens or near streams. In all cases, it is spectacular in full bloom.
The sweetbay magnolia is a graceful, southern evergreen to semi-evergreen tree. It will tend to be more evergreen the farther south it is planted. In nature, it is found most often in moist, acid soils near swamps or stream banks in the eastern United States. It is a small, typically multi-stemmed tree, columnar in shape with a mature height of 20 to 30 feet in the northern and 60 feet in the southern ends of its range. Its small size makes it an excellent tree for planting next to buildings or in urban areas with little space.
It is prized for its creamy-white, lemon-scented flowers that appear from June through September and are followed by small red seeds which are enjoyed by a variety of wildlife. Sweetbay magnolia roots easily, is tolerant of droughts and floods, and will grow in part to full sun.
Sourwood, also called the sorrel tree, is a member of the heath family (Ericaceae) which includes azaleas and rhododendrons. Like the rest of this family, it grows best in moist, acidic, well-drained soils and can be found growing wild along gravelly stream banks of eastern North America. The Arboretum has several sourwoods, with the most spectacular specimen featured in the Green Ribbon Garden.
It is a hardy, 25-30 foot tall tree that can be used in woodland gardens, shade gardens, open islands, or as a specimen plant. The perfect, white, urn-shaped flowers are fragrant and appear from June to early July, but the sourwood really shines in fall when its leaves turn from dark green to brilliant orange-red. The best color develops on plants that get the most.
In addition, bees are attracted to the flowers and sourwood honey is highly prized.