Dan's Interesting Plant: Fevertree

"Malaria and other fevers were treated at home with a medicine made from...this deciduous, 30-foot-tall, North American native tree..."

Once again, I’m going to talk about one of native plants which is often overlooked. Back in earlier days, malaria and other fevers were treated at home with a medicine made from the inner bark of this deciduous, 30-foot-tall, North American native tree, giving it one of its common names. Another one of its names comes from the pink look of the plants bracts, or modified leaves.

The tree grows around 15 to 20 feet tall by 15 feet wide as an open-grown landscape tree. The large, dark green leaves, five to eight inches long and three to four inches wide, have a lighter underside and are covered with a light fuzz when young. The clusters of yellowish-green, 2.5-inch-long tubular flowers are made more conspicuous by the cream to bright rose-colored, petal-like sepals, making this plant quite spectacular when it’s in full bloom in early summer. The brown, spotted, round seed capsules will remain on the trees throughout the winter.

Have you guessed this interesting plant? 

It’s Pinckneya pubens or Pinckneya bractea also known as Fevertree or Pinckneya.

The unusual, open, coarse habit of growth and showy flowers make this a conversation piece in any yard. Use it as an accent in a sunny shrub border or as a specimen near the patio or deck. This is certainly a tree to consider when planning a yard, due to the small size and pest resistance.

Found in its native habitat on poorly drained land or along swamp-margins, Fevertree should only be planted on moist soils or those areas which are flooded with rains periodically throughout the year. Although best flowering appears to be in full sun, trees grown in partial shade will grow but flower poorly. Not for a landscape unless it is occasionally irrigated during dry summers.

You can find this, along with many other interesting plants, when you visit Kalmia Gardens!

Nature. Community. Education.