Friday, June 30, 2017
The Silverbell - Halesia
The Silverbell - Halesia is a very small genus of five species of large deciduous shrubs or small trees in the family Styracaceae. It is most commonly found and reaches its greatest size in the Southern Appalachian Mountains where it is called The Mountain Silverbell. Species of this genus include Mountain-monticola(Snowdrop), Carolina-carolina (Little), Common-tetraptera, Two Winged-diptera, and Chinese-macgregorii (MacGregor's) Silverbell. This genus is only native to Eastern Asia and Eastern North America, and can be grown in hardiness zones 4-8. The different species within this genus are sometimes disputed as all being very similar to one another, some researchers say the genus only includes three members while others say four or five.
Image Citation (Flowers): Gary Wade, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
This attractive shrub or small tree grows in moist soils, commonly along streams and in the understory of hardwood forests. It has a moderate growth rate and can lives about 100 years. In tree form it can reach anywhere from 15-65 feet tall. The leaves are simple and ovate in shape and a medium green during the growing season. The wood is soft and close grained. The white bell shaped pendulous flowers and small size make it a desirable tree for landscaping. The flowers are a white or very pale pink, produced in open clusters of 2-6 flowers. The fruit is a distinctive, oblong dry drupe that is 2–4 cm long. All species except for the Two-Winged (Halesia diptera) have four narrow longitudinal ribs or wings on fruit; diptera only has two, making it the most distinctive of the group.The seeds are eaten by squirrels and the flowers provide honey for bees.
Image Citation (Shrub Form): Dow Gardens , Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org