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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Symplocos tinctoria (L.) L'Hér.
Horsesugar, Common sweetleaf, Sweetleaf, Yellowwood
Synonym(s): Symplocos tinctoria var. ashei, Symplocos tinctoria var. pygmaea
USDA Symbol: SYTI
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
A deciduous or weakly evergreen shrub or small tree to 18 ft. that usually flowers before the leaves appear. The compact clusters of small, fragrant, cream-colored flowers are borne in profusion along the branches of the previous seasonís growth. Numerous stamens make the blooms particularly showy. Shrub or small tree with short trunk, open crown of spreading branches, and foliage with sweetish taste.
The common names Sweetleaf and Horsesugar refer to the tasty foliage, which livestock eat greedily. The name Yellowwood and the Latin species name allude to a yellow dye once obtained from the bark and leaves. The bark, like others with bitter aromatic properties, was used by early settlers as a tonic.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Fruit:
Orange Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May
, VA Native Distribution:
w. to e. TX; also s.e. OK, AR
& TN Native Habitat:
Sandy thickets; alluvial woods; stream banks
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil Description: Wet or moist, sandy or alluvial soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Acid-based.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
BenefitUse Ornamental: Aromatic, Showy, Blooms ornamental
Use Wildlife: Foliage relished by browsers. Nectar-insects, Browse, Seeds-granivorous birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Larval Host: Kings hairstreak butterfly.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Edible Plants for North Georgia
January 10, 2010
We are planning a forest food garden in the hollers of the N GA Mountains.
Which edible fruit, nut, berry, herb and creepers would be best for this reddish, clay-like soil? The food garden is in...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
- Picayune, MS
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff