sweetleaf
Symplocos tinctoria
  • FAMILY: SYMPLOCACEAE
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: horse-sugar
  • LEAVES: simple, alternate, persistent; narrow elliptic with entire margin; yellowish midrib late summer; hairs on upper and lower (more hairy) leaf surfaces; sweet taste
  • FLOWER: April, before leaves; corollas cream to yellow, clustered in axils
  • FRUIT: dry, purple drupes, 1/2-3/4”
  • TWIGS: terminal buds with four scales, 1”; chambered pith
  • BARK: smooth, gray; furrowed with age
  • FORM: small tree 15-20’ x 4-6” dbh; occasionally to 40’ tall
  • HABITAT: moist, streamsides; understory
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: Gulf and Atlantic coastal plain
  • USES: browsed by deer and domestic animals; very important browse plant in longleaf pine regions; over 50% utilization indicates overstocked range; yellow dye extracted from leaves and bark
  • Brief Recognition Features:
    1. narrow elliptic leaf with sweet taste
    2. chambered pith