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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Carolina Silverbell

Carolina Silverbell

(Halesia carolina L.)

  This tree grows best in the Great Smoky Mountains but extends throughout the mountain region and the upper Piedmont. The tree rarely reaches heights greater than 80 feet and diameters 2 feet. It only grows large enough for commercial use in the most favorable locations. Carolina silverbell commonly is found along upper water courses as an understory tree. It occasionally is planted as an ornamental tree.

Leaves are simple, alternate, oval, pointed, thin and finely toothed. They vary in length from 3 to 5 inches. The bark ranges in color from very light gray in young trees to a very dark reddish brown in old trees. It separates into scales and strips as the tree grows older.

The flowers are white (sometimes tinged with pink) and nearly an inch long. They appear in early spring with the unfolding of the leaves. Carolina silverbell, which is also known as the snowdrop tree, may get its name from its pendant, bell-like flowers.

The fruit is 1 to 2 inches long and nearly an inch wide, with a corky, four-winged covering. The solitary seed is a bony stone. The heartwood is soft and light cherry-colored streaked with white; the sapwood is white or creamy. When large enough, it is cut for lumber and used as a substitute for cherry.
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