Shrub or small tree with beautiful, large, purple-centered, white or yellow flowers. Height: 20’ / Diameter: 4”
Leaves: broadly elliptical; short-pointed; finely saw-toothed and hairy on edges; short-stalked. Dark green above, light green and covered with soft hairs beneath. Bark: dark brown; smooth. Flowers: 4” wide; cup-shaped; with 5 rounded white or yellow petals with wavy edges, waxy and silky on outer surface, with many purple stamens. Appear in late spring and summer.
Habitat: Moist soil, near streams and in understory of hardwood forests.
This genus, related to the evergreen camellias, honors John Stuart, the Earl of Bute and a patron of botany. The species name is Greek for “soft tree,” referring to the silky hairs covering the lower leaf surface.