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Mountain Silverbell, Carolina Silverbell, 4-wing Silverbell - Halesia tetraptera


Family: Styracaceae - Storax family Genus Common Name: Silverbell Native Status: Native
Halesia tetraptera - Mountain Silverbell, Carolina Silverbell, 4-wing Silverbell. Halesia tetraptera is a tree with white bell-shaped flowers that persist for about a week in the springtime. Depending on your choice of authority, there are two or three species of Halesia. H. tetraptera, H. carolina, and H. diptera are recognized by the USDA and , but most authorities seem to now classify what was H. Carolina as a subspecies of H. tetraptera. H. diptera, according to an article at Virginia Tech, is not a mountain species and is not found in North Georgia.

I'm breaking with my normal stance of considering ITIS to be authoritative on the valid classification because the following (and others) have chosen to classify H. carolina as a synonym of H. tetraptera.
  • Vanderbilt University
  • NC State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Richard Ware of the Georgia Botanical Society


H. tetraptera var tetraptera is a smaller tree to 35'. H. tetraptera var monticola can be over 100'. The tree we photographed was a small tree, but since it was clearly a young tree, the height was not indicative of the particular subspecies.

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Halesia tetraptera

Distribution of Halesia tetraptera in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 13 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Tallulah River Gorge, Rabun County, GA Date: 2010-April-30Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson f/5.6 ISO320
Silverbells, be it known by the Carolina or Mountain names, are named for the clusters of bell-shaped blossoms that form in mid-spring and last for about a week.
Halesia tetraptera

Site: Tallulah River Gorge, Rabun County, GA Date: 2010-April-30Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/125f/5.6 ISO200
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm 4-5.6G ED
60mm (90 equiv)
Halesia tetraptera leaves are alternating, serrated, dark green above and lighter green beneath, often hairy underneath, especially while young.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Halesia tetraptera

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer