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Stewartia malacodendron (Silky camellia)
Cressler, Alan

Stewartia malacodendron

Stewartia malacodendron L.

Silky Camellia, Virginia Stewartia, Round-fruited Stewartia

Theaceae (Tea Family)


USDA Symbol: stma

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Silky camellia is a large, open-branched shrub growing up to 10 feet, or more, tall. Leaves are alternate, deciduous, 2-4 inches long and half as wide, silky below, and distinctly veined. Flowers are white to cream-colored, 2-3 inches across, and saucer-shaped. The petals are crimped at the margins and wider at the tip. The numerous dark-purple stamen filaments and bluish anthers are conspicuous.

This genus, related to the evergreen camellias, honors John Stuart (1713-92), the Earl of Bute and a patron of botany. The species name is Greek for "soft tree," referring to the silky hairs covering the lower leaf surface.


From the Image Gallery

21 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet all, often much shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Flowers are white to cream-colored.


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Coastal plain from s.e. VA to FL & extreme e. TX
Native Habitat: Wooded banks & hillsides

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Description: Acid, humus-rich, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Silky camellia prefers deep shade during the heat of the day, but thrives on early morning sun.


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.
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

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
Webref 1 - Texas Native Shrubs (2002) Texas A&M University Agriculture Program and Leslie Finical, Dallas Arboretum

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-21
Research By: TWC Staff

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