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Halesia monticola: Mountain Silverbell1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


Mountain Silverbell grows into a 40-foot tree in its natural habitat but is about 20 to 30 feet tall in gardens and landscapes, with an upright-spreading crown. The tree prefers sandy loam and begins blooming when only 10 to 12 feet tall. The flowers are larger than those of Halesia carolina . The white, bell-shaped blossoms are borne in clusters of up to five. Flowering occurs along last years branches in mid-spring on the previous season's wood. Because the flowers point downward, they are partially hidden by the foliage and best viewed from below. Other ornamental features are the yellow fall color and the bark, which peels off in large, flat scales. The pale yellow fruits are quite attractive as they hang down from last years branches. Mountain Silverbell may transplant poorly in the fall.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Halesia monticola: Mountain Silverbell
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Halesia monticola: Mountain Silverbell
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Halesia monticola
Pronunciation: hal-EE-zhee-uh mawn-tih-KOLE-uh
Common name(s): Mountain Silverbell
Family: Styracaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 5A through 9A (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: specimen; street without sidewalk; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; highway median; container or planter
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 40 to 60 feet
Spread: 20 to 30 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: vase, oval, pyramidal
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval), ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches, 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage


Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: very showy


Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: yellow
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: thin
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: sand; loam; acidic; slightly alkaline; well-drained; occasionally wet
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: none


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

This tree is interesting all year long, with attractive medium green foliage, pretty flowers, showy fruits, and exfoliating bark. It branches low to the ground, making a nice lawn or specimen tree and when pruned to one central leader can be used as a street tree in residential areas in less than full-day sun. The bark shows off nicely with foliage removed from the lower branches, and multistemmed specimens come-to-life when lit from below at nighttime.

An understory tree best suited for a partially shaded or shaded location, silverbell prefers moist, fertile soil with an accumulation of leaf litter and/or mulch. Water during a drought and avoid compacted soil.

One cultivar is listed: `Rosea'--pale pink flowers.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases of serious concern, occasionally leaf spot.


1. This document is ENH450, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH450

Date: 9/30/2014

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