Sour wood leaves grow on Oxydendrum arboretum trees. A native of the southeastern region of North America, this deciduous plant produces spectacular autumn foliage! Green in the springtime and during the summer, the leaves transform with color as conditions grow colder in the fall. Leaves gradually adopt rich shades of yellow, red or dark purple.(1) Leaf collectors particularly enjoy Sour wood trees because the foliage won't disappear until late in the season; Sour wood Trees continue offering a brilliant natural display for many weeks.(2)
Identifying The Leaves
Sourwood tree leaves appear elongated and symmetrically oval in form. They grow on alternate nodes of a branch. Their exterior texture carries a slight glossy sheen during warmer months. The edges of the leaves display extremely thin, delicate serrations along the edges.(2)
The Sourwood Tree begins its color transformation earlier than many other deciduous trees. Usually found growing in hilly terrain, the tree begins showing reddish or orange tones in individual leaves as early as the end of August. By October, most Sourwoods showcase vibrant fall colors.(3)
Gathering Sourwood Foliage
An individual Sourwood may display differently colored leaves in its branches. If you raise these trees in order to obtain beautiful fall foliage, many experts recommend planting them in a sunny location in order to achieve the most colorful results. Since many Sourwood groves retain their leaves well into autumn, leaf collectors can often harvest 3" to 8" long oblong leaf blades directly from the tree. Individual leaves measure between 1.5" and 3.5" in width.(4)
Sour wood branches don't contain thorns, so harvesting foliage does not involve a lot of risk. The leaves may not break off easily, however. Exercising reasonable care not to damage the tree while collecting specimens for scrap booking or art projects should enable you to return for many years to gather leaves from your favorite trees.