Stewartia pseudocamelia

Beauty for All Seasons
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From Wikipedia: Stewartia pseudocamelia is a small to medium sized deciduous tree, growing to 10–15 m (rarely to 18 m) tall, often with multiple stems and/or low branching trunks. The bark is smooth textured, exfoliating as the plants age, and has a camouflaged or mottled appearance with patterns of dull orange and green with grey mixed in. The trees are pyramidal to rounded in shape with deep green coloured foliage. Young stems have a zig-zag shape with flattened, divergent buds. The leaves are 4–12 cm long and 2.5–5 cm broad, arranged alternately on the stems with an elliptical shape and finely serrated edges. In the fall the foliage turns  purple, often with yellow and red tones. The flowers, up to 8 cm wide, are quite beautiful, with five white petals with orange anthers; they are shaped like those of the related Camellia, round and flat to somewhat cupped. They are produced in summer, generally in June until the end of August; each flower is short-lived, but many are produced that open over many weeks. The fruit is a brown capsule, triangular in shape with four or five angles, persistent on the trees but not showy.

Can also be grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub reaching 12-15' tall. Cup-shaped, camellia-like white flowers (to 2.5" diameter) with showy orange-yellow anthers appear in early summer. Elliptic, dark green foliage (to 3" long) turns attractive shades of reddish-orange and burgundy in autumn. Exfoliating, reddish-brown bark provides good winter color and interest. Stewartia, Camellia, and Franklinia are all members of the tea family (Theaceae) and have similar flowers.

Stewartia pseudocamellia is an attractive ornamental tree that grows best in rich organic soils with good drainage and consistent moisture throughout the year. It is grown in full sun, but under hot and dry conditions it grows best in some light shade during the afternoon. It is used as a specimen planting in shrub borders or as a specimen in lawn plantings, having year round interest. It can be temperamental to establish and younger trees transplant best (Ours are just the right size).  When grown with single trunks they form taller more pyramidal shaped trees, when having multiple trunks plants tend to grow shorter and spread out wider.

S. pseudocamellia was introduced into western cultivation in 1874, and has survived winters as cold as −30 °C (−22 °F).

In the UK this plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

photos by Reggaeman and Derek Ramsey

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