July 5, 2020

Lucky Seven

Heptacodium miconioides - Seven Sons tree

Mark Uchneat Photo | Heptacodium miconioides – Seven Sons tree

Heptacodium miconioides is a curious plant. Its name Heptacodium translates to seven flowers, which is what you’ll find in each whorl of its fragrant, creamy-white flowers: seven. It is the source of its common name, Seven Sons, although you’ll find that attached as Seven Sons tree, Seven Sons flower or Seven Sons plant. The plant wasn’t “discovered” until 1907 during an expedition in central China for the Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts. Considered rare even then, it is barely still found in its native habitat, although it has become a popular ornamental around the world. H. miconioides is the sole member of its genus Heptacodium. All of that said, the shrub is hardy to Zone 5, growing to 15 feet or more in height with a 10-foot spread. The multi-stemmed shrub – with “exfoliating” bark (think birch-like) – creates a fountain shape, flowering in late summer and followed by purple-red “fruits.” Sounds like we’d be lucky to have one.

Photographed by Mark Uchneat.