On November 9, the James River Association in partnership with the Richmond Tree Stewards led a group of 10 volunteers from Hunton & Williams LLP to plant 12 native trees at Chapel Island in Richmond. The volunteers left empowered and armed with the knowledge on how to properly plant a tree. The types of trees included 3 Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis), which most have heard of, as well as 9 Sourwood (Oxydendron arboretum), which many people may not have heard of.

Sourwood is a beautiful, yet underused small flowering tree that is native to the eastern United States from Pennsylvania to Florida. It typically grows 20-25’ tall. They can be used as a specimen tree, in clusters, and are also great along the edge of the woodline. Sourwoods are best grown in full sun to part shade. Their fall color is gorgeous with bright red leaves and in early summer you will find white, fragrant, drooping flowers. Bees love the flowers and there is even a Sourwood Honey, which is mostly produced in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains where these trees are abundant.

Planting trees is a great thing any of us can do to help the James River, whether in your own yard or as part of a volunteer event. Their canopy and leaf litter slow rainfall and reduce erosion, roots improve the soil structure and allow for water to filter into the ground, pollutants and nutrients from runoff are processed and stored in the wood, and lastly they provide great habitat for wildlife.

Looking to plant trees as part of a James River Association Volunteer Event? Join us at Powhatan State Park on December 3 where we will be installing 700 native tree seedlings! Register Here

Feeling empowered to plant a tree at home? This Tree Owner’s Manual is a great resource for anyone looking for information on how to properly plant and care for their tree.

Flowering Sourwood
Red leaves on Sourwood in the Fall