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Stewartia ovata (Mountain camellia)
Cressler, Alan

Stewartia ovata

Stewartia ovata (Cav.) Weath.

Mountain Camellia, Mountain Stewartia

Theaceae (Tea Family)

Synonym(s): Malachodendron pentagynum, Stewartia pentagyna


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A 12-20 ft., oval-shaped shrub, or taller as a small tree. Solitary or few-clustered trunked with strongly ascending branches. Dark-brown bark is smooth, with patches of exfoliating sheets revealing orange inner bark. Colorful fall foliage. Large, showy, solitary, white flower with crimped and scalloped edges and numerous purple stamens. Shrub or small tree with gray; hairless twigs, bright green foliage, and large white flowers.

Though found in 9 states, this uncommon species is mostly confined to the southern Appalachians. The scientific name refers to the egg-shaped leaves.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall when growing as a shrub. Up to about 60 feet tall when growing as a tree.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , FL , GA , KY , MS , NC , SC , TN , VA
Native Distribution: VA to s.e. KY, s. to n. GA & AL
Native Habitat: Wooded stream margins in the mountains

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, humus rich, sandy loams.
Conditions Comments: Disease and insect free but sensitive to drought and soil compaction.


Description: One method of propagation by seed is to sow fresh seeds in cold frame or greenhouse and keep the seedlings lightly shaded the first year. Another method is to double-stratify the seeds and fall sow in a well-protected spot. Germination may take two year
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:

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


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

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