Silky Stewartia, or Stewartia malacodendron, is a species of the genus Stewartia and a member of the Tea family and is native to the southeastern United States, where it is found growing along forested stream banks. It grows slowly into a large deciduous shrub or small tree, typically 10 to 15 feet tall.

Of all the Stewartias, this is the one with the showiest flowers, and they are stunning. It is summer blooming with showy white flowers, 3 inches in diameter. Up close, the flowers, with their brilliant purple filaments and sapphire stamens, are beautiful and from a distance this sprawling tree covered in white blossoms is dramatic. And the branches tend to grow horizontally, giving an elegant, pagoda-like form to this rare tree.

Stewartias develop some fall color with the 4-inch simple leaves, typically a rich purple. Silky stewartia has a slow rate of growth and will do well in the part-shade areas of the garden, and it must have good drainage.

It grows spottily through most of the southeast of the US. It is fully hardy in the UK and New Zealand and temperate Australia. But it is a connoisseur tree, and as such, will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.


Silky stewartia

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