Lily of the Valley Tree (or Sourwood)
Lily of the Valley Tree (or Sourwood)

Lily of the Valley Tree (or Sourwood)

Regular price $4.50 Sale

Oxydendrum arboreum

Origin: Tennessee

Improvement status: Wild

Seeds per packet: ~60


Life cycle: Perennial

Lily of the Valley Tree, also commonly known as Sourwood, is a tree in the blueberry family (Ericaceae), best known for its fragrant and graceful lantern/bell-shaped flowers which produce a nectar beloved by bees. Sourwood honey is considered one of the finest honeys in the world. Native to eastern North America, from Pennsylvania south to northwest Florida and west to southern Illinois. It's most commonly found in the lower reaches of the Appalachian Mountains and frequently occurs in oak-heath forests. Like most of its cousins, it requires acidic soil to thrive.

Juice from lily of the valley tree's blooms is used to make a tasty jelly, and the leaves have been used as a laxative, and a treatment for asthma, diarrhea, fevers, kidney and bladder ailments, excessive menstruation, and indigestion. The bark has been chewed to treat mouth ulcers. The young leaves can be eaten raw and have a pleasing sour taste (the tree is also sometimes called "sorrel tree" for this reason). The shoots were used by Cherokee and Catawba people to make arrowshafts.

GROWING TIPS: Hardy Zones 5-8. Perhaps surprisingly, this species requires no stratification, but seedlings should be not be allowed to dry out until they have at least four or five true leaves. Seeds are very small. Surface sow, spreading seeds thinly over your prepared medium's surface (peat with some humus is a good choice). Gently tamp seed into soil surface and water by misting so they don't float away. Seed needs light to germinate so don’t cover seed. A clear plastic cover to maintain humidity will improve germination and increase the likelihood of seedling survival. Light should be indirect. Seeds germinate best at room temperature or slightly higher. Should begin to germinate within two weeks or so.