Carolina Nature

Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina

Silky-Camellia (Stewartia malacodendron)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Theales>Theaceae>Stewartia malacodendron L.

Loblolly Bay (Stewartia malacodendron)

This large shrub (rarely a small tree) is an occasional component of the understory of deciduous forests in the North Carolina Coastal Plain, rarely found in the Piedmont and Mountains. The branches tend to grow horizontally, forming a pagoda-like arrangement. Spectacular white Camellia-like flowers appear in mid-summer. Weakley (2007) describes the habitat as "mesic forests, especially on beech-dominated bluffs or 'islands' in Coastal Plain swamps."

Common names include Silky Camellia, Virginia Stewartia, and Silky Stewartia. The hyphen in Silky-Camellia is to indicate that it is not a true Camellia.

Island Creek, Croatan National Forest, Jones Co., NC 4/14/07.

The alternate leaves grow in clusters at the end of branches.

Jones Co., NC 4/14/07.

The leaves are covered with white-silky hairs beneath, especially on the main veins.

Jones Co., NC 4/14/07.

A close look reveals eyelash-like white-silky hairs along the edges of the leaves.

Jones Co., NC 4/14/07.

Bark detail.

Jones Co., NC 4/14/07.

More information:
Forestry Images
NC State Fact Sheet

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