2016

 
 

Gordonia, Loblolly Bay, or Gordonia lasianthus, is a handsome evergreen tree of moist (i.e. loblolly) soils of the southeastern United States. It is an upright, evergreen tree that reaches a height of 35 feet in cultivation and over 60 feet in the wilds. In youth, it is gangly like a teenager, but becomes more stately and pyramidal with maturity. The handsome, evergreen foliage which qualifies it as a first-rate screen, consists of leaves two to seven inches long, glossy, dark green above and light grey on the underside, very attractive when tossed in the wind. And although Gordonia is evergreen, many of the leaves color a bright scarlet in the fall. But Gordonia is most famous for the spectacular white flowers in summer which bloom over a rather long period - two to three months, and are pungently fragrant. These immaculate five-petalled flowers are beautifully set-off by brilliant gold stamens, which shows Gordonia's camellia relationship, as it is in the tea family.

Gordonias are most attractive when located adjacent to still, dark waters, the kind so typical of the American South. There, the dark, green trees tower above the water while the white petals drift down to float upon the surface. It is a lovely and serene setting.
Gordonias are fairly pest and disease free, tolerant of both moisture and shade but not of drought. They do well in warm, humid environments, such as the southeast US, but will grow in the warmer parts of the UK. They can also do well in temperate Australia and New Zealand. As always, a tree this rare is not likely to be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely found in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries.

Gordonia

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