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 Gordonia subsp. var.  
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Theaceae > Gordonia var. ,

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Gordonia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae, related to Franklinia, Camellia and Stewartia. Of the roughly 40 species, all but two are native to southeast Asia in southern China, Taiwan and Indochina. The remaining species, G. lasianthus (Loblolly-bay), is native to southeast North America, from Virginia south to Florida and west to Louisiana; G. fruticosa is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, from Costa Rica to Brazil.

Several species of Gordonia are grown as ornamental plants for their flowers produced in winter when few other trees are in flower. They are however difficult to grow compared to the similar but generally smaller-growing camellias.

They are evergreen trees, growing to 10–20 m tall. The bark is thick and deeply fissured. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, serrated, thick, leathery, glossy, and 6–18 cm long. The flowers are large and conspicuous, 4–15 cm diameter, with 5 (occasionally 6-8) white petals; flowering is in late winter or early spring. The fruit is a dry five-valved capsule, with 1-4 seeds in each section.

The species are adapted to acidic soils, and do not grow well on chalk or other calcium-rich soils. They also have a high rainfall requirement and will not tolerate drought.

Some botanists include Franklinia within Gordonia, even though recent phylogenetic studies show that Franklinia's closest living relationship is with the Asian genera Schima and not Gordonia[1]; it differs in being deciduous and flowering in late summer, not late winter. The draft Flora of China account of Theaceae in China splits Gordonia into two genera, with G. lasianthus retained in Gordonia, and the Asian species transferred to Polyspora; this treatment is not yet widely accepted.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Gordonia (after James Gordon, an English nurseryman; died 1780). Theaceae. Including Franklinia. Ornamental woody plants grown for their showy white flowers and handsome foliage.

Evergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs: lvs. alternate, petioled, entire or serrate: fls. solitary, axillary; sepals and petals 5; stamens numerous; ovary superior, 3-&-celled, each cell with 4 or numerous ovules; style slender, with a 3-6-lobed stigma: caps. 3-6-celled, woody, dehiscent, with few or many winged seeds in each cell.—About 15 species in Subtrop. and Trop. Asia and 2 in the 8. Atlantic States.

The gordonias have very handsome shining foliage, and produce their large white flowers even on rather small plants. Only G. alatamaha is hardy north to Massachusetts, while the others are cultivated only in subtropical regions. They grow best in a somewhat moist, peaty, or sandy soil. Propagated by seeds, layers or cuttings from half-ripened wood under glass. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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There are about 40 species, including:

Gordonia species from East Asia were transferred to Polyspora, including:[2]


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