Common Name: Mountain Gordlinia
Origin: Southeastern USA
Notable Feature: In 2003 this fascinating, bigeneric hybrid was introduced by Dr. Tom Ranney of North Carolina State University. He and his team crossed two southeastern natives: the very hardy but somewhat finicky, deciduous Franklin Tree, Franklinia alatamaha, and the amenable but not so hardy, evergreen Loblolly Bay, Gordonia lasianthus. The result is a plant that grows more vigorously with larger white flowers than either parent.
Habit: The typical habit of this fast growing hybrid is a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree reaching 25’ tall and 15’ wide. Performs best if given morning sun and dappled to full shade in the afternoon. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 7.
Flower: From early August through September camellia-like, white blossoms, 3 to 4” wide with prominent yellow stamens ornament the tree. Their sweet fragrance lures butterflies and honey bees.
Foliage: Narrow, elliptic leaves (to 4 to 8” long) with wavy margins are dark green and brightly polished. The leaves are semi-evergreen, and in fall the older leaves will acquire shades of red, orange, and plum.
Interesting Fact: This rare, intergeneric hybrid is an exciting new addition to the garden. The flowers are a little larger, more open, and outward-facing than those of the Franklin tree. It is a rare plant appreciated by collectors, but is truly anyone's plant since it is most attractive and valued for its interesting history.