Silverbells a good substitute for dogwoods

 

Bumblebees seem to find silverbell flowers irresistible. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

Bumblebees seem to find silverbell flowers irresistible. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

One of my favorite flowering trees is just finishing up its bloom.

Silverbell is a native tree that covers itself with dangling white bells all along its branches, usually a little later than dogwoods, although they’ve overlapped this year.

And, unlike dogwoods, they’re not that picky about where they grow.

LSU AgCenter’s Dr. Allen Owings calls it a great, underused native tree.

Ours has probably been in the yard about 10 years. It got off to a bad start after squirrels decided the bark tasted better than anything they had ever sank a buck tooth into before and stripped it right off. But the tree survived, recovered and is now about 20 feet tall. Its limb structure starts low on the trunk and I can’t stand to prune them off, so the branches reach to the ground. Very pretty but a pain to mow under.

Silverbells in the wild are found as an understory tree in pine and hardwood forests. Mature trees top out at about 30 feet, making them easy to fit onto a city lot. Fall color is a nice yellow.

So if you long for dogwoods, but don’t have the perfect conditions they require, consider a silverbell. While they’re not quite as showy, they have a charm all their own – and a great disposition to go with it.

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