Stewartia ovata
Common Name: mountain camellia 
Type: Tree
Family: Theaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall

Culture

Best grown in medium moisture, humusy, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Appreciates some afternoon shade in hot summer climates.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Stewartia ovata, commonly called stewartia, mountain stewartia or mountain camellia, is a deciduous small understory tree or large shrub that is primarily native to wooded stream banks and bluffs bases in the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont from Virginia to Alabama. It is noted for its camellia-like flowers, rich dark green summer foliage and orange-scarlet fall color. It typically grows to 10-15’ tall with a shrubby habit. Ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (to 5-6” long) have broadly winged leafstalks. Leaves turn attractive shades of orange and red in fall. Five-petaled white flowers (to 3” diameter) with orange anthers bloom in July when few other trees are in bloom. Flowers give way to 5-parted woody seed capsules that split open when ripe. This tea family member is closely related to Camellia, Franklinia and Gordonia.

Genus name honors John Stuart, 16th century Scottish botanist and 3rd Earl of the Isle of Bute.

Specific epithet means egg-shaped for the leaves.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf scorch may occur in full sun exposures in hot summer climates.

Garden Uses

Lawn specimen, patios, shrub borders or native plant gardens. This uncommon tree deserves a prominent position in the landscape.