Styrax americanus 'Baby Blue'

American snowbell

The JC Raulston Arboretum has been known for our impressive Styrax or snowbell collection since J. C. introduced 'Emerald Pagoda' Japanese snowbell. A recent graduate student from the University of Delaware (Mathew Lobdell) performed a survey of snowbell collections in public gardens and the JCRA proved to have the most diverse collection (photo 583647) in the country with 33 different taxa.

Snowbells or storax are a widespread group of flowering trees or shrubs occurring in North America through to South America, southern Europe, and southeast Asia. They are easily recognized when in flower by the pure white flowers and bright yellow stamens which occur in spring on the new growth followed by silvery-gray fruits with one to three seeds. Of the approximately 130 species, about a quarter are from Asia and represent the most common species seen in Western gardens. Our native Southeastern species, S. americanus, is unfortunately often overlooked but should be more widely planted.

American snowbell makes a small tree or more commonly a multi-stemmed shrub growing to about 18' tall. Flowers appear in mid-spring with narrow, reflexed petals creating a delicate, graceful specimen. In the wild, American snowbell is found from Virginia south to Florida and east to Texas occurring mainly in damp to swampy spots. In the garden, it is easy to grow in most spots, tolerating heavy clay or sandy soils. It prefers regular summer moisture but is quite tolerant once established and may be a good candidate for rain gardens. The selection 'Baby Blue' is difficult to find in the trade but the first time we saw it at a trade show, we were hooked. Spring foliage and new growth through the season is colored silvery-blue. The color is especially nice lighting up a slightly shaded spot in the garden.

We are extremely happy to be able to finally offer this outstanding plant in our Member's Only Preorder Plant Sale (www.XXXX) in nice 7 gallon containers. Go to the Web site to see the full list of outstanding plants we've selected to offer you. Proceeds from this sale benefit the general operations of the JCRA. It is not too late to become a member and place your order. Order now through September 14, plants will be available for pickup October 2–4.