Sourwood is a very ornamental small to medium-sized tree native to the United States. Leaves of Oxydendron arboreum possess a sour taste, giving the plant the common name of Sourwood.
Lovely clusters of sweet smelling blossoms hang delicately from the tree in early summer. Later the blooms develop into attractive seed clusters that are usually still hanging on the tree in fall when foliage turns its fire-red fall color.
Leaves begin to change from green to red as early as August. Autumn color can be a combination of red, burgundy, and purple!
The photo shows a small tree in my garden in November, but some large specimens can be seen at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
Sourwood prefers a semi-sheltered position in partial shade--the edge of a woodland is perfect. This lovely tree also grows well in full sun and is a great choice for a roadside garden.
Although drought-tolerant once established, water regularly the first year after planting, to make sure your tree gets off to a healthy start.
An important source of nectar for honeybees, sourwood is a smart choice for our environment in light of the decrease in honeybee populations across the country.
Often mistaken for Poison Ivy (Why? I don't know!!), it has no irritating properties that I know of. Virginia creeper, or Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is closely related to the more well-known Boston Ivy, and is native to the Eastern United States.
Easy to grow and not nearly as invasive as English Ivy, Virginia Creeper is a great plant to grow on a wall of brick or other masonry. This beautiful vine clings to almost anything by attaching tendrils to a porous surface. For that reason, it's best to keep it away from any wooden areas.
Virginia Creeper is attractive at least 3 seasons of the year, but in fall the foliage attracts attention when it comes alive in a brilliant shade of red.
As is true with many of our lesser known native plants, Virginia Creeper is drought tolerant, thrives in just about any soil, and grows well in either sun or shade. It does not require a structure to grow on, and it is a great groundcover for a bank needing some erosion prevention. Parthenocissus quinquefolia is hardy in USDA Zones 3 - 9 and roots easily from cuttings. Virginia Creeper is a good alternative to the more invasive English Ivy and Japanese Pachysandra. Although it isn't evergreen in most climates, the vibrant red fall color more than makes up for it!