A modern reference to temperate woody plants, including updated content from this site and much new material, can be found at Trees and Shrubs Online.

Stuartia ovata (Cav.) Weatherby

Modern name

Stewartia ovata (Cav.) Weath.

Malacodendron ovatum Cav.; S. pentagyna L’Hérit.

A deciduous shrub, up to 15 ft in height, with erect branches but a bushy habit; young shoots, leaf-stalks, and often the leaves tinged with red. Leaves ovate, 212 to 5 in. long, about half as much wide, rounded at the base, pointed, toothed more or less distinctly on the margin, or entire, hairy beneath, more especially when young; petioles winged. Flowers produced singly in the leaf-axils, on hairy stalks, about 14 in. long, each bearing a single bract. Sepals five, about 12 in. long, broadly strap-shaped or ovate, densely hairy; petals five or six, creamy white, prettily crenulated, one of them often deformed. A conspicuous feature of the flower is the cluster of normally whitish, but sometimes purple stamens; styles three to five, not united; the finest flowers are over 4 in. across, others under 3 in. Bot. Mag., t. 3918.

Native of the south-eastern USA from Virginia and Kentucky south to Alabama and Georgia; introduced in 1795. Loudon records that around 1837 there were specimens at Dropmore 10-12 ft high and others almost as tall at White Knights, both gardens in the Thames Valley, making a splendid display every year in July and August. Like the other American species it is now very rare in gardens and worthy of further trial on acid soils in south-eastern England.

var. grandiflora (Bean) Weatherby S. pentagyna var. grandiflora Bean – ‘I distinguish by this name [see synonym] the beautiful form with purple stamens, which give a much more striking character to the flower than the ordinary whitish ones, especially as it measures 4 to 412 in. across the petals. This form is found along with the white-stamened one in the woods of Georgia; there appears to be no other character to differentiate them, but the stamens are always purple.’ (W. J. Bean, in the present work, Ed. 1, Vol. II, p. 555 (1914)).



Other species in the genus