1313 Stewartia pseudocamelliaCommon Names: Japanese stewartia Family: Theaceae (tea Family)
Japanese stewartia is a deciduous tree that can get up to 70 ft (20 m) tall in the wild, but is usually smaller, even shrublike, in cultivation. Mature specimens in their native forests are tall, with broad columnar or pyramidal shapes. Cultivated specimens are often pruned to have many branches near the base or even multiple trunks. Japanese stewartia has reddish brown, almost pinkish, bark that peels away in long strips. The leaves are oval, about 3-4 in (8-10 cm) long and have fine teeth on the margins. They turn striking shades of fiery orange and wine red in autumn. Japanese stewartia has beautiful flowers about 2-3 in (5-7 cm) across. They have five white petals and many conspicuous stamens sporting orange anthers atop white filaments. The undersides of the petals are silky-wooly. The fruit, a triangular brown podlike capsule about an inch (25 mm) long, lasts through much of the winter but is not particularly showy.
Stewartia pseudocamellia occurs naturally in mesic to moist hardwood forests in Japan and Korea.
The stewartias thrive in fertile, slightly acidic, lime-free soils. Japanese stewartia should be protected from strong winds. Light: Stewartias tolerate full sun in the cooler parts of their useful range, but in general they do best in light, dappled shade. They definitely need afternoon shade in the warmest regions. Moisture: Grow Japanese stewartia in a consistently moist, but well drained soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8 . Japanese stewartia is tolerant of temperatures down to at least -15° F (-26° C). It is, however, problematic in the summertime heat of zone 8. Propagation: Fresh seed should be planted outdoors in autumn. It may take two years before seed germinates. Semi ripe and greenwood cuttings taken in summer can be rooted.
Japanese stewartia is used as an ornamental specimen tree or shrub, grown for its lovely camellia-like blossoms, its handsome foliage which turns even handsomer in fall, and for its distinctive, exfoliating bark. These extremely attractive trees are usually more shrublike in cultivation, encouraged to grow bushy with multiple stems. The flowers are individually short lived, but the blooming period lasts for several weeks in the summer. Japanese Stewartia is at its best in the woodland garden, in mixed shrub borders, and as a specimen in cool, partly shady lawns.
There are fewer than a dozen species in the genus, Stewartia. They occur only in eastern Asia and southeastern North America, a pattern of distribution we see frequently in the plant kingdom. The genus name honors the 18th century Scottish nobleman, John Stuart, who was the prime minister of Great Britain for a brief period.
Steve Christman f8/28/18