New tree discovery for Valley gardener


OSU Extension master gardener volunteer


At the Canfield Fair, I worked the OSU Extension booth, answering questions, helping people with plant-related problems.

While talking to another gardener, I was introduced to the Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides), and I fell in love.

This small tree (single trunk) or shrub (multitrunked) has a huge impact. First, it is low to low maintenance, you just plant it. It will grow in the sun to semi shade; likes moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates drought; is fast growing; and nothing seems to harm it. It is listed as a zone 5-8 plant, making it a great choice to plant anywhere in the Mahoning Valley.

This small tree grows 15 to 20 feet tall (shrub is 8 feet) and almost as wide, and has white and tan bark that peels in strips for a beautiful accent during every month of the year. The tree height makes it a great addition in small yards where space is limited or if power lines or other obstacles limit available spaces for planting larger trees.

In the late summer as other trees have quit, the seven sons tree gets groups of small white fragrant flowers in groups of seven, that cluster together similar to a lilac. This is where the tree gets its common name. After flowering, the petals fall off revealing red sepals that carry over until winter. The birds love them. In fall the dark green leaves turn a purple bronze, so they have three to four season interest.

The only maintenance on this tree is possible pruning. This should be done in the winter as the tree sets buds in the early spring. My friend sent me pictures as Kent State University main campus planted them around the buildings after all the ash trees were taken out.

The University of Illinois reminds us this plant is native to China and is, “relatively new to the U.S. horticulture market.” Thus, we will learn more about this tree’s needs and any potential diseases or insect issues as it becomes planted in more areas.

To see some photos and learn more about this tree, go to:

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