Halesia tetraptera Ellis
Mountain silverbell, Carolina silverbell, Silverbell tree
Styracaceae (Snowball Family)
USDA Symbol: hate3
Mountain silverbell or Carolina silverbell is a small understory tree or spreading shrub to 60 ft. in height. Delicate white or pinkish, bell-shaped flowers droop gracefully along the undersides of twiggy branches. The flowers are followed by four-winged fruits which cure tan and are interesting the fall. The bark of young trees is striped and on older specimens has a pattern of white furrows between gray-brown plates. Deciduous leaves are dark yellow-green in summer, changing to yellow in fall.
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Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May
DistributionUSA: AR , GA , IL , IN , KY , MI , MO , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: FL to e. TX, n. to PA, extreme s. IN & s. IL, s.e. MO & OK
Native Habitat: Rich, hardwood forests; stream banks
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Part Shade
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, organic loam.
Conditions Comments: This species is not attacked by insects but is damaged by winds and will become chlorotic in high pH soils. It blooms a week or so before the dogwoods. Use of the less familiar name, H. tetraptera, for this species instead of the commonly used H. carolina may cause confusion, but is correct under the rules of nomenclature. A distinct species, H. parviflora, is also referred to as H. carolina. It is a similar but smaller plant, rarely exceeding 40 ft., and occurs primarily along the Gulf Coast. The mountainous sp., H. monticola, is sometimes classified as a variety of H. carolina. It is larger and more dramatic than any of the other species or varieties.
PropagationDescription: Seeds require a period of after-ripening followed by cold, moist stratification. Seeds may take two years to sprout. Layering, root cuttings and softwood cuttings will root. Rooted cuttings should not be transplanted until growth flushes the following
Seed Collection: Collect fruit from early fall to early winter. Air dry to prevent molding or rotting. Store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Double stratification: 60-75 degrees for 90 days, followed by 90 more days of 33-41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Halesia tetraptera in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Halesia tetraptera in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Halesia tetraptera
MetadataRecord Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff