Lottah Nursery Tasmania, Australia
Syn. 'Japanese Stewartia', 'Japanese Stuartia'
This is easily the most popular of the stewartias, and not without reason. It is a slow growing tree to 6 m or so under cultivation, ideal for suburban blocks, though known to approach 20 m in the wild. Our eight year old plant is standing at a tad over 3 m.
As members of the theacea family which includes camellia, stewartias perform best under acidic soil conditions in the cooler regions of Australia.
Flowers are solitary, arising from leaf axils and are cup-shaped, white, sometimes stained with orange, a little over over 60 mm across with orange anthers starting around mid-December, the entire flowering season extending for a short period. This is followed by fruit set. In Autumn leaves turn a brilliant scarlet and persist for some time before falling.
It is the mature trunk which is reported to be the most attractive part of the plant, with exfoliating bark providing a kaleidoscope of colors on the bare trunk in Winter. We are not personally acquainted with sufficiently mature trees locally to provide images of this.
This is not a tree for instant gratification - there is a 4-5 year wait for the first flowers, and it would take several decades to mature into its full glory.
Good descriptions may be found in Dirr, M., Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia
(click on thumbnail for larger image)
50401-5763 (1, 9, 26, 53)