Sourwood is a small to medium (30-70’) deciduous, understory tree found throughout the Carolinas in mixed hardwood forests It is the only member of its genus (Oxydendrum) and has no known subspecies, varieties or forms. It is in the Ericaceae family, and its closest relatives are in the genera Pieris and Lyonia. Sourwood is beloved for several reasons. When grown in the open as a specimen, it will develop a conical or rounded crown, but in an understory situation it tends to be vertical or contorted, chasing the dapples of the sun, and will have less branching. The bark of mature specimens is distinctive, being deeply furrowed and ridged. Leaves are lustrous and shining. It flowers spectacularly in the early summer, with graceful racemes of white flowers that hang in sprays about 6″ long against the deep green foliage. As if that were not enough, the foliage of the Sourwood turns all shades of red (rich maroon, scarlet or plum color) which persist late into autumn in the fall. The rich colors form a backdrop to the beautiful, persistent seed structures — a reversal of the color pattern seen in the spring. Finally, it is a wonderful plant for attracting pollinators, and the honey made from Sourwood flowers is highly prized as one of the premium honeys of the world.