Buckwheat tree, Black titi, or Cliftonia monophylla, is another of those great small trees that only a very few, select nurseries carry. It is native to the southeast of the US and loaded with attractive qualities and yet, is typically only found in a few, connoisseur collections specializing in  native plants of North America. So what makes this tree so special? Whereas some trees have one or two outstanding characteristics such as fantastic bloom, or fantastic autumn color, the Buckwheat tree has a subtle beauty all year. And it has several practical assets as well. For one thing, the size recommends it to modern gardens. It only reaches 15 feet in height when grown in the open, more when grown in heavy shade. So it can fit almost any situation. Additionally, it will grow in those low, damp spots where few other tree can flourish. Buckwheat tree will thrive in consistently damp and acidic areas, in sun, or high shade. It can even tolerate periodic flooding. Buckwheat tree is also evergreen, meaning it can serve as a screen or barrier. But practical assets aside, it has excellent aesthetics, foremost of which is the white or pink flowers in early spring. These are terminal spikes, held upright, blanketing the tree like so many decorative candles, and are not only beautiful but fragrant. Then, in summer, the fruits emerge, yellow, three-winged, resembling buckwheat seeds. These will turn a pale brown and persist into autumn. The glossy, dark green leaves are alternate, and all the more attractive in winter and will make a great privacy barrier for the garden or a screen.

Buckwheat tree will grow in mild winter areas and it is tolerant of long, warm summers. For colder regions it can be maintained at a size adequate for pot culture. It will do well across the southern half of the US, the warmest parts of the UK and would do well in sub-tropical Australia.

A superb pink flowered cultivar is “Van Cleave”.


Buckwheat tree

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