Botanical Name: Franklinia alatamaha
Common Name: Franklinia
Origin: Southeastern USA
Notable Feature: Three-inch wide, camellia-like, sweetly fragrant, white flowers feature egg-yolk yellow center stamens. The flowers appear in late summer/early fall at a time when few other flowering trees are in bloom.
Habit: Deciduous. Grows as a single-trunked tree, 20 feet or more high, or as a multi-stemmed shrub with a rounded crown. The smooth gray bark is marked by white stripes and becomes fluted with age, adding winter interest.
Flower: Species has perfect (bisexual) flowers. In late summer, cup-shaped, 3-inch wide, sweetly fragrant, 5-petaled white flowers with conspicuous, yellow stamens bloom and last into the fall.
Fruit: In autumn, nearly round, ¾” across, woody capsules form, initially green and turning brown when ripe. The capsule splits 5 ways from the base, giving a unique zigzag appearance.
Foliage: Narrow, oblong-obovate, glossy, dark green leaves, to 5” long, turn striking shades of orange, red and purple.
Interesting Fact: When Philadelphia botanist John Bartram found a rare specimen near the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765, he named it to honor his friend Benjamin Franklin. It has been extinct in the wild since the early 1800s and all now existing Franklinia derive from the seed he collected.