Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Symplocos tinctoria (L.) L'Her.
- Family: Sweetleaf (Symplocaceae)
- Flowering: March-April
- Field Marks: This shrub or small tree is characterized by its alternate, simple leaves with
low teeth and its dense cluster of bright yellow, fragrant flowers with many stamens. The
leaves, when chewed, produce a sweet taste.
- Habitat: Woods, thickets, borders of streams.
- Habit: Shrub or small tree to 20 feet tall.
- Stems: Slender, usually hairy, at least when young.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, deciduous or evergreen in the southernmost locations, oblong to
obovate, pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, with low teeth or wavy edges, pale and hairy on
the lower surface, up to 6 inches long, up to 3 inches wide.
- Flowers: Clustered along the sides of the branchlets, bright yellow, up to 1/2 inch across, fragrant.
- Sepals: 5, green, united below into a tube.
- Petals: 5, bright yellow, nearly free from each other, rounded at the tip.
- Stamens: Many, arranged in clusters at the base of each petal.
- Pistils: Half-inferior.
- Fruits: Dry, oblongoid, green, hairy, up to 1/2 inch long, with persistent calyx at the tip, 1-seeded.
- Notes: This woody plant is also known as sweetleaf.
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