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Sourwood - Oxydendrum Arboreum
The most nurturing soil for the Sourwood is organically rich, acidic, moist, well-drained soil. This tree will not survive a drought so it must be kept watered lovingly. In the wild, it's most well known for its appearance on the rocky slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. Its roots are shallow, and the tree seems to respond to its environment better if it doesn't have to compete for ground space. When the sourwood is mature, its bark is typically gray color and scaly. The leaves are typically a deep green with fine tooth edges. Every fall the leaves will turn a brilliant crimson red color. The leaves are said to have a very bitter taste which lends to its name Sourwood. Hikers will often make tea out of the leaves to help quench their thirst. The tea is also said to be beneficial for dysentery and diarrhea. The flowers produced by the tree are extremely popular with bees providing a wonderful nectar for honey. The particular honey created by this tree is prized and considered more valuable than other variations of honey. There are few places in the country that also develop jelly from the nectar of its flowers, called Sourwood Jelly. The flowers on the Oxydendrum Arboreum are white and incredibly fragrant. They drop off the tree similar to lilies of the valley. Whitetail deer love the twigs produced by the Sourwood.
Not only does this tree have ornamental value and medicinal value but makes a considerable contribution to wildlife as well.