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Halesia tetraptera (Mountain silverbell)
Brundage, Stephanie

Halesia tetraptera

Halesia tetraptera Ellis

Mountain Silverbell, Carolina Silverbell, Four-wing Silverbell, Silverbell Tree

Styracaceae (Storax Family)


USDA Symbol: HATE3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 60 feet tall.
Fruit: Nut-like, with 4 wings.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: 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 Conditions

Light 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.


Description: 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 Directory

According 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


Bibref 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.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Halesia tetraptera in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Halesia tetraptera in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Halesia tetraptera


Record Modified: 2023-05-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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