Oxydendrum arboreum

2007 – Sourwood

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.

Itea virginica

2007 – Virginia Sweetspire

The Virginia sweetspire is a deciduous to semi-evergreen, 3 to 5 foot tall shrub commonly found in swamps, wet woodlands and along woodland streams of eastern North America.

It has slightly fragrant white flowers in May when few other plants are flowering. Its medium to dark green summer leaves change to yellow, orange, reddish purple, scarlet, and crimson in autumn.


Sweetspire grows best in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, fertile soils where it spreads to form a mass. It also tolerates drought and is adaptable to different pH levels.

Dicentra eximia

2007 – Wild Bleeding Heart

Wild bleeding heart is named for its heart-shaped flower that appears as if there is a drop of blood forming at its base.  It is a woodland native that can be found from New Jersey to West Virginia and throughout the Appalachian Mountain range. This herbaceous perennial does well in both sunny and shady sites in moist soil.  Increased sun however, will increase flower production and extend the flowering period.  Dicentra forms 12-18 inch clumps of grayish-green, fern-like leaves. Its showy pink, occasionally white flowers begin to appear in late spring and continue in flushes until autumn giving an appearance of nonstop blooming.

Easy to grow and great for naturalizing, wild bleeding heart does not have any serious insect or disease problems but is a great source of nectar for bumblebees. Somewhat difficult to start from seed, it is easy to propagate from division and, once established will self-propagate and last for many years.

Tiarella cordifolia

2004 – Foam Flower

Tiarella is a spectacular native plant that gets its common name from the white, foamy-looking flowers. It is an easily grown perennial that can be used as a ground cover in somewhat shaded areas.

This hardy plant has something to offer all year round. In late April it exhibits dense, white, feathery spires that give it a lace-like appearance.  The handsome “maple-leaf” foliage is attractive all summer long, sometimes turning red in autumn. Depending on the variety, the summer foliage can vary from solid, deep green to variegated with dark red markings.  There are also different varieties selected for their growth habit with some being “runners” and others being “clumpers.”  Foam flower is perfect for mixing with lower-growing woodland flowers in moist soil.