Symplocos tinctoria (L.) L'Hér.
Horse Sugar, Common Sweetleaf, Sweetleaf, Yellowwood, Wild Laurel
Symplocaceae (Sweetleaf Family)
Synonym(s): Symplocos tinctoria var. ashei, Symplocos tinctoria var. pygmaea
USDA Symbol: SYTI
A deciduous or weakly evergreen shrub or small tree to 18 ft., sometimes taller, 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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous , Evergreen
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 45 feet tall, often much shorter.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , NC , NY , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: S. DE to FL, 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.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Aromatic, Showy, Blooms ornamental
Use Wildlife: Foliage relished by browsers. Nectar-insects, Browse, Seeds-granivorous birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Larval Host: King's hairstreak butterfly.
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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...
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
BibliographyBibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Symplocos tinctoria in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Symplocos tinctoria in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Symplocos tinctoria
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-09-26
Research By: TWC Staff