• Central Park Conservancy Logo


Sourwood Tree
The sourwood is a beautiful tree with fragrant white flowers in July and red-purple leaves in fall. The beautiful blooms are the source of a wonderful honey beloved by connoisseurs for its flavor, pale color, and rarity. Shoots of the sourwood were said to be used by certain Native American tribes to make arrowshafts. The sourwood is part of the family that also contains blueberries and cranberries, rhododendrons, and heaths and heathers.

Common Name: Sourwood

Scientific Name: Oxydendron arboreum

Origin: Southeastern United States, as far north as Pennsylvania

Family: Ericaceae

Size: 25 - 30' tall

Form: Pyramidal shape, drooping and swooping branches

Culture: Full sun to partial shade, prefers moist acidic soils, avoid polluted urban locations


3 - 8" long, 1.5 - 3.5" wide, alternate arrangement, elliptical shape, red-purple in fall


Showy, small, white, urn-shaped; fragrant; bloom mid-July


0.3" capsules that spontaneously split open when mature, persistent, showy


Bright red and green twigs, grayish-brown older bark