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HALESIA tetraptera

Image of Halesia tetraptera

James Burghardt

Family

Styracaceae

Botanical Name

HALESIA tetraptera

Plant Common Name

Carolina Silverbell, Mountain Silverbell

General Description

The dainty, white flowers of Carolina silverbell are a lovely sight to behold in springtime. This multi or single-trunked deciduous tree is native to the central and eastern United States where it inhabits woodland areas with rich, fertile soils. There are two varieties that vary in height. Halesia tetraptera var. tetraptera becomes a small to medium sized tree and Halesia tetraptera var. monticola becomes very large. Mature specimens develop large, rounded crowns.

As the first of its yellow-green leaves begin to emerge in spring, clusters of two to six pendent, white, bell-shaped blossoms line the branches. These are frequented by bees and mature to four-keeled, yellow-green fruits that dry to tan in autumn. The fall foliage turns a rather unspectacular mottled blend of yellow and green early in the season. Its grayish brown bark is shallowly furrowed and offers limited winter interest.

Plant Carolina silverbell in a moist, fertile soil that is on the acid side. It will tolerate slightly alkaline soil but may suffer from nutritional deficiencies if the soil is too limey. Full sun encourages the best habit and heaviest flowering, but this tree will also thrive in partial shade. Mulch with leaf mold or partially composted bark mulch if planted in a woodland setting. This spring bloomer looks pretty with azaleas and woodland flowers planted at its base. Its delicate white blooms are especially appealing when viewed from beneath the branches, so consider planting it near a park bench where people can gaze up at them.

The naturally occurring variety rosea is similar to the species except that its blossoms are blushed with pink at the base. Make sure to select a tree when in flower as the pink coloration can vary widely.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    25'-40' / 7.6m - 12.2m

  • Width

    20'-35' / 6.1m - 10.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, South-Central United States, Texas

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Light Yellow, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes