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Excellent Fall Color Ornamental Sourwood Honey Tree

  • Incredible Fall Color Display on Large Leaves
  • Eye-catching Summer Flowers Look Like Lily of the Valley
  • Outstanding Shade Tree
  • Wonderful Architectural Presence in the Landscape
  • Deeply Furrowed Bark Adds Texture and Winter Interest
  • Long-Lived Selection
  • Native to North America
  • Valuable Sourwood Honey
  • Tolerates Acidic Soils

If you want a compact tree that has it allrefreshing shade to fragrant flowers and amazing fall colortake a good look at Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum). This deciduous tree features year-round ornamental features, and arguably offers the best fall color of the native trees.

With pretty summer flowers and an ideal size for modern lots, Sourwood is a superb choice for a shade or accent tree in yards with dry, acidic soils. It has a romantic weeping appearance, with slightly downturned branches. Even the leaves and the sweet flower clusters dip towards the ground.

As spring recedes and summer begins, 8-inch long glossy green leaves cover the Sourwood tree. The large, bright green leaves are elliptical with a slightly wavy margin when studied up close. From a distance, the leaves look smooth and streamlined. They actually taste sour, inspiring the name "Sourwood".

Fragrant white flowers bloom in early summer on long panicles. At this unusual time of year, any flowering tree is a welcome sight both to you and to your pollinators! Honeybees adore the tiny, urn-shaped, white blossoms that are held along a long stalk in large sprays that emerge from the branch tips. The sweet blooms grow on the downward side of their drooping stems, which give them a lyrically old-fashioned charm.

No wonder people have nick-named this the Lily-of-the-Valley tree!

The large leaves really shine when dressed in their autumn finery. The summer green deepens into a wonderful mix of scarlet, burgundy, yellow and brilliant crimson red that is sure to turn every head in the neighborhood.

The flower sprays transition to ornamental sprays of gray seed capsules, which contrast beautifully against the scarlet leaves. They'll hang on the tree for added interest after leaf drop in winter and provide needed sustenance for squirrels, birds, and other wildlife.

Even the strongly patterned bark is attractive. Youll be amazed how much visual impact is displayed as the deep furrows create an interlaced, blocky texture. This is a distinctive, memorable tree that looks great all year long.

Sourwood is a delightful tree that deserves to be placed front and center as a four-season accent. Add yours to start enjoying this beautiful and beneficial addition to your landscape. Order today!

How to Use Sourwood in the Landscape

Growing as an understory plant in native forests in the eastern United States, the tree will tolerate a fair amount of shade. However, the amount of shade may affect flower production and the dynamic fall color. The shade will also affect the trunk.

In full sun, it most often grows straight and true with a narrow crown. As trees mature in shade, they can develop twisting and turning trunks as they reach for the sun. It gives them a sculptural effect. Allow the Sourwood to develop into a living work of art in your landscape.

With its year-round appeal and reasonable height, the tree is suited to many landscape applications. From woodland gardens to creekside plantings or even in a rain or shade garden, the Sourwood makes a perfect choice to include for a shade or accent tree.

Try it as an irrigated lawn tree for a high-impact look. Be prepared to answer questions about your beautiful tree. Youll be proud you chose this lovely native for your landscape.

The bees love the summer flowers, too. Sourwood honey is highly prized as superior among gourmet chefs. If you have a large property or homestead, include Sourwood and keep beehives. Sourwood honey is a valuable delicacy and is in high demand at farmers markets and as an online product offering.

Plant a grove for a wonderful view from the deck or out of the family room windows. Plant the trees from 7 to 8 feet apart on center. Youll measure from the center of one to the center of the next.

Use an odd number of trees and keep the planting pattern loose and natural for excellent results. Try curving the planting to follow the natural contouring lay of your land. If your yard is flat, consider creating a raised berm to boost the impact of an informal grouping.

#ProPlantTips for Care

Pest and disease-free, the Sourwood tree is a very easy-to-grow deciduous tree and a breeze to care for when planted in the right location. It is native to the acidic slopes of the Appalachian Mountains.

Sourwood is a member of the Heath family and is related to Blueberries and Azaleas. As you might imagine, it grows beautifully in acidic soils with a lower pH of 5.5 to 6.5. It will not thrive in alkaline soils without serious amendment, although it will tolerate neutral pH soils. Give it well-drained soil.

Sourwood does not tolerate drought for any period of time. Provide your tree with a moderate amount of regular water.

It's also called the Sorrel Tree, which is an ancient word that means 'sour tasting'. While you may not enjoy the sour taste of its leaves, you'll love their dark green shade and their knock-out color performance in fall.

Enjoy this magnificent native tree. Order your Sourwood Tree today!

Buying Options for Plants

Nature Hills sells a large variety of plants with several options available. Plants are offered in both potted containers and as dormant bare root without soil. Here is a helpful resource to understand your options as you create a beautiful landscape with help from Nature Hills.

Ever wonder what a larger plant will mean for your landscape? Container Sizes are really all about the age of the plant!

Seasonally, Nature Hills offers hand selected, high quality bare root trees, shrubs and perennials. Bare root plants are sold by height from the top of the root system to the top of the plant. Plants may be taller than the height minimums.

  • Popular sizes of select trees are 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, etc.
  • Popular sizes of select bare root plants is 1 foot, 18 inches, etc.

Nature Hills Container Size by Volume

Keep in mind, specific varieties and different growing conditions can affect the rate at which plants grow. Variations in size may occur.

Young Plants to 18 Months
Size Volume
2"x2"x3" Ranges from .18 to .21 dry quarts / .198 to .23 dry liters in volume
4.5" Container Equal to .65 dry quart / .72 dry liter in volume
Sprinter Pot Equal to .63 dry quart / .69 dry liter in volume
4" Container Ranges from .31 to .87 / .35 to .96 dry liter in volume
6" Container Equal to 1.4 dry quarts / 1.59 dry liters in volume
1 Quart Equal to 1 dry quart / 1.1 dry liter in volume
5.5" Container Equal to 1.89 of a dry quart / 2.08 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x5" Ranges from .8 to 1.1 dry quarts / .88 to 1.2 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x6" Ranges from 1.0 to 1.3 dry quarts / 1.1 to 1.41 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x9" Ranges from 1.1 to 2.1 dry quarts / 1.2 to 2.3 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x10" Ranges from 1.7 to 2.3 dry quart / 1.87 to 2.53 dry liters in volume
Plants 18 Months - 2.5 Years Old
Size Volume
2 Quart Equal to 2 dry quarts / 2.2 dry liters in volume
#1 Container Ranges from 2.26 to 3.73 dry quarts / 2.49 to 4.11 dry liters in volume
5"x5"x12" Equal to 3.5 to 4.3 dry quarts / 3.85 to 4.74 dry liters in volume
Plants 2 - 4 Years Old
Size Volume
#2 Container Ranges from 1.19 to 1.76 dry gallons / 5.24 to 7.75 dry liters in volume
#3 Container Ranges from 2.32 to 2.76 dry gallons / 10.22 to 12.16 dry liters in volume
Plants 3 - 5 Years Old
Size Volume
#5 Container Ranges from 2.92 to 4.62 dry gallons / 12.86 to 20.35 dry liters in volume
#6 Container Ranges from 5.25 to 6.01 dry gallons / 23.12 to 26.42 dry liters in volume
#7 Container Ranges from 5.98 to 6.08 dry gallons / 26.34 to 26.78 dry liters in volume

About Plant Sentry™

Plant Sentry is designed to protect both consumers and the nursery trade from invasive plant pests and diseases. Sites that display the Plant Sentry protection badge are protected from consumers buying and nurseries shipping material carrying invasive pests and diseases.

This proprietary eCommerce software prevents the shipment of a restricted plant to each state. The Plant Sentry system includes a shipment certification program. The Plant Sentry Compliance Officer works closely with and each nursery or fulfillment center to ensure only compliant plants are sold to customers.

Click Here to learn more

Plant Sentry


To obtain a more accurate shipment time-frame, simply enter your zip code in the “Find Your Growing Zone” box to the right. Our plants are grown all over the country and lead time on items may be different because of this. Once your order is placed, you will also receive the specific shipment time-frame information as part of your order confirmation. Once an item ships, you will receive shipment notification and tracking numbers, so you can follow along while your plant travels to your doorstep. We use FedEx, UPS, or USPS at our discretion.

Due to winter weather we have put a hold on shipping to the areas shown below in grey. You can still order now and we will ship the plant to you during an appropriate time for your zone.

*If you have found your zone already, it will be highlighted in the table below.
Color Zone Times
3 Spring 2019
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Shipping Rates

At Nature Hills we handle, package and ship the products you order with the utmost care to ensure healthy delivery. Shipping and handling charges are calculated based on the tables below. Please note that some items include an additional handling surcharge, these will be noted on the item's product page.

From To S&H
0 - 19.99 24.99
20 - 49.99 29.99
50 - 69.99 34.99
70 - 99.99 39.99
100 - 129.99 44.99
130 - 149.99 48.99
150 - 150+ Approx 28%

Click here to see our full rates


Sourwood Is Suited to Grow in Zones 5-8
Growing Zones 5-8
More Information
Brand Nature Hills' Choice
Botanical Name Oxydendrum arboreum
Mature Height 20 - 30 feet
Mature Spread 10 - 15 feet
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Acidic
Moisture Moderate
Growth Rate Slow
Flower Color Deciduous
Foliage Deciduous
Foliage Color Green
Fall Color Yellow, Orange, Red, Burgundy / Purple
Pollinator Friendly Yes