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Sourwood Tree

Sourwood Tree
Sourwood or the sorrel tree is a beautiful tree with glossy foliage that soothes the eye and delivers a feel of eminent tranquility. Here is more on this.
Gardenerdy Staff
The Sourwood tree, also called the Oxydendrum arboreum in scientific terminology, is an aboriginal plant of North America. It acquired its name due to its leaves being sour in taste. During the archaic epoch, its leaves were used as a medicine, due to their inherent essential properties.

The Leaves

The leaves of this tree could be termed as medicinal tonic. They act as a substance that delivers a freezing or cooling effect when consumed. In addition, it also proves to be a catalytic component in diuretic drugs. The term diuretic could be defined as a substance that aids an individual to get rid of the excess water in the form of a substantially increased urine flow from the body. It has been proved that, the diuretic powers the leaves exude, convey relief to the patients suffering from the trouble of frequent urination with blood content, accompanied by a burning sensation.

The leaves have evinced its powerful properties by being an essential ingredient mixed with whiskey, thereby proving to be a concoction; effective for aging men having kidney and bladder problems. Bowel movements were also doctored using these leaves, making them regular and aiding patients during sudden, severe bouts of diarrhea or dysentery.

The Facts
  • Sourwood tree, in scientific terms, is referred to as Oxydendrum arboreum. It could be counted as a member of the deciduous tree type. The term 'Oxydendrum arboreum' has its roots in the Greek words 'oxys' and 'dendron', which mean acid and tree respectively.
  • It is also called the Lilly-of-the-valley, ti-ti tree, elk tree, and arrow-wood. It is also a great patio tree.
  • The leaves are oblong and petiolate in shape, 1-2 inches broad and 4-6 inches in length. They have a glossy texture and finish. A rich red is the color they adorn at the onset of winter.
  • This tree belongs to the heath family that constitutes members such as rhododendrons, huckleberries, blueberries, and cranberries.
  • Its best growth could be witnessed in moist conditions with soil that has an acidic content ranging from pH 3.5 to 6.5
  • Although the leaves are sour and acidic in taste, the wood of the tree is not. It is tasteless and odorless and its feel is dense and hard. The wood is employed for manufacturing machine parts, arrow shafts, and handles.
  • The sap of the sourwood tree is evaporated into a syrup and the remainder content called the sour-gum could be chewed.
  • One should plant it during spring. The one and only thing you need to do in terms of care is to water it regularly until it grows.
  • It is the first tree whose leaf color changes into a rich red during the fall. It is not receptive nor can it fight air pollution. However, it is strong enough to bear the brunt of windy and stormy days.
  • The sourwood tree is pest-resistant. It serves as an excellent ornamental tree. The attractive color of the leaves make it all the more appealing.
Tree Identification
  • The leaves grow in an alternate manner on the twigs. They are glossy green, oblong in shape, and taper at the tip. The fall brings with it the leaves with brilliant red and orange shades.
  • Another identification characteristic is the sour taste of the leaves.
  • The flowers are white in color, lending a sweet fragrance. They grow in clusters, are bell shaped, and droop down forming a bouquet of sorts.
  • The fruits grow in clusters and being one third of an inch in size, consists of seeds of the tree. They refuse to fall off the tree, well until the winter months.
  • There are two types of Sourwood Hybrids. One is called Mt. Charm and the other is named Chameleon. Mt. Charm has leaf colors brighter than the sourwood that grows in the wild. On the other hand, Chameleon grows with leaves adorning different shades and colors.
The sourwood tree lends beauty and serenity to its surroundings. It is a perfect tree for the purpose of landscaping.
Fruits closeup
Autumn Sourwood Tree
Sourwood in autumn
Hands holding soil
Fruits of Sourwood Tree
Sourwood Tree leaves and flower closeup
Sourwood Tree white flower
Sourwood Tree fruit and flower