Woody Plant of the Week - Seven-Sons Flower

Authors
Published on

A recent walk through the Toledo Botanical Garden in Toledo, Ohio was simply enjoyable. Hints of fall colors and noticeable fruits were scattered throughout and were enjoyed by all. It was on the final leg of the walk, when the group turned the corner and white flowers immediately caught our attention. The blooms of the seven-sons flower (Heptacodium miconioides) were in their glory. It was the flowers that drew us in, but it was the pollinator activity that kept us watching. The insect activity was amazing.

Seven-Sons Flowers
Photo Credit:  Amy Stone, OSU Extension, Lucas County

While the late season flowers are eye-catching and enough of a reason to consider this plant as a landscape addition, its peeling bark provides season long interest. This large, fountain-shaped, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that typically grows 15-20' at maturity with a 10' spread. With a little effort it can be pruned into a single-trunk tree, or maybe be purchased from a garden center or nursery with this habit.

Seven-Sons Flower Shrub
Photo Credit:  Amy Stone, OSU Extension, Lucas County

Flowers are borne as terminal clusters. The creamy-white flowers and fragrant and are blooming now in NW Ohio. The flowers appear in whorls, with each whorl containing 7 tiny flowers - the reason for the common name of seven-son flower. Following the flowers will come a showy display of small, purplish-red fruits that last late into the fall.

 

Its tan bark exfoliates to reveal attractive brown inner bark. While somewhat hidden during the growing season, it provides good winter interest after leaves fall. Speaking of leaves, they are narrow, shiny, ovate-oblong and medium-green.

Seven-Sons Flower Trunk with Exfoliating Bark
Photo Credit:  Amy Stone, OSU Extension, Lucas County

 

The plant provides a good source of nectar for butterflies in the fall, and hummingbirds can be a frequent visitor.