Small, sweet, and splendid: the resplendent Stewartia is a deciduous beauty that is sure to make a unique statement in your yard. All it needs? A good dose of sun and a bit of tender loving care…
What distinguishes the lovely Stewartia?
Charming white blossoms.
Vibrant flame-colored fall color.
Easily cultivated as either a tree or shrub.
Ornamental, with a compact size that’s idea for small yards.
Keeping up appearances…
Stewartia Ovata is commonly known as the Mountain Camellia; indeed, the Stewartia’s flowers very much resemble that of camellias, unfurling gorgeous pale white petals and stamens that range in color from white to gold to purple. These blossom in midsummer against a refreshingly lush canopy of oval green leaves that exhibit fiery fall color, morphing in autumn into a sunset-hued patchwork of glorious bronze, gold, and crimson. Its flowers give way to woody seed capsules that split once ripe, containing up to four winged seeds that allow for propagation.
In the wild, this flowering member of the botanical Theaceae family is native to low- and mid-elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains ranging from Virginia to Mississippi; it thrives as an understory species and tends to be found near streams. Cultivated as a small tree or tall shrub, the Stewartia’s rounded crown often grows 10-15 ft. high, enabling this to serve as a spectacular ornamental specimen for a small yard, patio, or garden. It is further distinguished by its zigzag stem pattern and a smooth dark brown bark that exfoliates to reveal a dune-orange inner layer.
A friendly recommendation.
The Stewartia is lauded as being relatively free of all serious insect and disease problems, although it can be susceptible to leaf scotch if exposed to too much sun in very hot climates. With a 5-9 hardiness zone rating, this flowering specimen thrives with full sun to partial shade (especially enjoying afternoon shade in hotter regions) and prefers medium well-drained soils. It is a slow and steady grower, and doesn’t tolerate heat or drought too well. Notably, it demands little maintenance.
Awesome tree trivia!
- The latter part of the Stewartia’s binomial name—Stewartia Ovata—refers to the egg shape of its leaves.
- The Stewartia’s genus name honors 16th century Scottish botanist (and, coincidentally, 3rd Earl of the Isle of Bute) John Stuart.
- Though not an endangered species, some experts do consider the Stewartia as a vulnerable specimen; it has a limited range and is not commonly found in its natural habitat.
This Tree's Zone: 5 to 9
Your Growing Zone:
|Fall Foliage||Orange, red, gold|
|Shape||Small Tree - Shrub Form|
|Sun||Full Sun to part shade|
|Size||10 to 15|
|Spread||10 to 15|