'Sweet Tea' Mountain Gordlinia
(xGordlinia grandiflora 'Sweet Tea')
As if xGordlinia grandiflora (a rare intergeneric hybrid between Franklinia and Gordonia - Ranney and Fantz, 2006) wasn't unusual enough, 'Sweet Tea' is a polyploidy form with extra sets of chromosomes. The result - huge (5 inch diameter), showy flowers that look like big fried eggs. Semi-evergreen foliage with large, single, camellia-like flowers from July through September. Why 'Sweet Tea'? Well, it's a member of the tea family, the flowers have a light sweet fragrance, and it comes from the South where sweet tea runs in our veins. Okay, it's not the toughest tree on the planet, so give it a good site with well-drained, even moisture. More resistant to Phytophthora than Franklina (Meyer et al., 2009), but it's still a bit finicky. Best in full sun or a little afternoon shade as long as it's not too dry. Roots readily from stem cuttings, then takes off growing. Mature height is estimated to be 20-30 feet. Zone 7-10. Not patented or trademarked.