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Oxydendrum (arboreum )

John Vandevender
Center Manager
USDA NRCS - Appalachian Plant Materials Center
P. O. Box 390
Alderson, West Virginia 24910

Family Scientific Name: Ericaceae
Family Common Name: Heath
Scientific Name: Oxydendrum arboreum (L.) DC.
Common Name: sourwood
Species Code: OXAR
Ecotype: southern Appalachian
General Distribution: Found on well-drained soils on ridges rising above the banks of streams from New York South to Florida and Westward to Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Known Invasiveness: none
Propagation Goal: Plants
ProductType: Bareroot (field grown)
Stock Type: 2-0
Time To Grow: 2 years
Target Specifications: A seedling ranging in height from 6" to 12" with a 1/16" to 1/8" caliper stem and a compact, well developed root system suitable for mechanical transplanting.
Propagule Collection: Seeds were collected from trees in the Southern Appalachian Region. Seeds were collected in the fall, from September to November.Seed is seed is small and not difficult to collect. Many seeds can be collected from one tree.
Propagule Processing: Seed was processed (cleaned) by hand using rub boards and hand screening.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Best germination and growth of seedlings is in raised beds or sandy soil with adequate moisture. Prepare beds by deep rototilling or other tillage methods that achieve thorough loosening and mixing of soil.
Establishment Phase: Germination typically occurs in the spring after an overwinter period of cool, moist natural stratification.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4-6 months, including natural stratification period
Active Growth Phase: Plants require little maintenance during active growth other than application of at least 1 inch of water per week during drought conditions and elimination of weed competition. Weeds must be removed during early growth phases to avoid uprooting the sourwood seedlings.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 16-18 months
Hardening Phase: Plants are grown outdoors and experience constant climatic acclimation.
Length of Hardening Phase: none
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Seedlings are harvested in late winter while dormant. The best harvesting method employs a nursery bed lifter/shaker which undercuts the seedlings and gently loosens the soil around the roots. Bare root seedlings are then plucked from the loosened soil by hand.

Refrigeration is employed to maintain seedling dormancy after harvest until shipping. Optimal temperatures for maintenance of dormancy are 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Root dessication during storage is prevented through packing in aged, moistened hardwood sawdust.
Length of Storage: 1-2 months
References: Dirr, Michael A. 1998. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Champaign, Illinois. Stipes Publishing, LLC.

USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 4 August 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Young, James A., and Cheryl G. Young. 1992. Seeds of Woody Plants in North America. Portland, Oregon: Dioscorides Press.


Vandevender, John. 2016. Propagation protocol for production of Bareroot (field grown) Oxydendrum arboreum (L.) DC. Plants 2-0; USDA NRCS - Appalachian Plant Materials Center Alderson, West Virginia. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2019/11/18). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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