Halesia tetraptera - Carolina Silverbell
Family: Styracaceae

Hear the scientific name

Halesia tetraptera is a tree with prolific mid-spring white bell-shaped pendulous flowers that is best-sited in semi-shady locations with moist, rich soils.

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-medium-sized ornamental tree

-maturing at about 30' tall x 20' wide under urban conditions, but up to 60' tall in the wild

-upright irregular growth habit (either single-trunked and low-branched, or multi-trunked, with ascending branches forming an irregular canopy that is highly variable from one tree to the next)

-medium growth rate


-medium green, alternate, ovate to elliptical, and serrulate

-autumn color is yellowish green to yellow-brown, and not at all ornamentally effective


-white, in late Apr. or early May, as pendulous bell-shaped clusters of flowers on short pedicels from the previous year's wood, with each flower consisting of 4 fused petals, with the flowers persistent for about a week

-very attractive when viewed from a short distance, but best viewed by looking up into the canopy or at eye-level to achieve the maximum ornamental effect, since they are pendulous, emerge with the foliage, and are therefore slightly hidden


-lime green, distinctly four-winged, changing to brown, and usually abscising in autumn, but with a few fruits persistent into the following spring


-tan and pubescent at the end of the first growing season, becoming darker brown then gray in the second year, developing stringy exfoliating filaments on the second- and third-year wood

-young branches remain smooth and brown-gray, with prominent darker striations

trunk Trunk

-older branches and young trunks become furrowed, flat-ridged, and blocky, while mature trunks are more deeply fissured and dark gray, sometimes mottled with a lighter brown coloration

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-full sun to partial shade

-prefers partial sun to partial shade in moist, acidic, well-drained, organically-enriched soils; it is not urban tolerant, especially to heat, drought, and poor soils, and may develop chlorotic foliage when placed in alkaline pH soils

-propagated by rooted stem cuttings or by seeds

-no serious diseases or pests

-moderately available, primarily in B&B form

distribution map


-zones 4 to 8


-native to the Eastern U.S. where it exists at the edges of woodlands

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-white bell-shaped flowers in spring

-striated to furrowed gray-brown bark

-lime-green, four-sided fruits in late summer

-shade tolerant


-irregular and somewhat unpredictable in growth habit, although generally upright

-poor autumn color


-specimen tree for the border, woodland edge, understory, or even foundation site, as long as the proper soil, moisture, and drainage conditions are met

-well-suited as an accent tree near decks, patios


-medium texture in foliage and when bare

-average density in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-mid-spring flowering trees (Cornus florida, Crataegus viridis 'Winter King', Malus, etc.)

-small- to medium-sized trees with subtle stem/branch/bark ornamental character (Amelanchier laevis, Cornus florida, Crataegus viridis 'Winter King', etc.)

-native understory ornamental trees or large shrubs (Aesculus glabra, Amelanchier canadensis, Carpinus caroliniana, Cercis canadensis, Ostrya virginiana, Viburnum prunifolium, etc.)

-trees with oddly-shaped fruits (Asimina triloba, Carpinus betulus, Koelreuteria paniculata, Ostrya virginiana, Staphylea trifolia, etc.)


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