The Sourwood Tree (also called Lily-of-the-Valley tree after its flowers) is native to the U.S. but until the last 50 or so years its northern range was considered Pennsylvania. It turns out to be a good native tree to plant in CT, and was doing well even back in the 70s and 80s. In Spring, when most trees are flowering, the Sourwood takes a pass...
These ethereal Sourwood flowers start out on slender wisps, and hang down on a single, one-sided raceme. They will grow slightly in size, but are profuse on the tree at any size. This is where it earns another name: Lily-of-the-Valley tree. It is also known in some parts as a Sorrel tree. A raceme is a type of inflorescence - a way that flowers and buds are displayed on plants. Notice the tiny flowers hang DOWN.
LATE SUMMER, SEED PODS
In mid-September, the seed pods of the Sourwood Tree begin to be seen. Notice these position themselves UP on the raceme. This Sourwood Tree is tall so you have to find the lowest branches to see this clearly.
In Fall, the Sourwood Tree turns a medley of different, attractive colors. The seed pods are still on the tree.
Winter. The natural shape of a typical Sourwood is a bit shorter than this, but this location poses a challenge for full sun from several directions. The Sourwood elected to go vertical before extending its canopy. It was planted in 1988 (then Naturalist Ken Garrahan) and is an excellent Arboretum tree.
BARK, SEED PODS
The bark of Sourwood is regularly and deeply furrowed (left). Seed pods blown down in Winter. The pods often hang on the tree till the following Spring.