Virginia Tech Dendrology

buckwheat tree Cyrillaceae Cliftonia monophylla (Lam.) Britton ex Sarg. Listen to the Latin symbol: CLMO2
Leaf: Evergreen, alternate, simple, thick and leathery, obovate to lanceolate, 1 1/2 to 4 inches long, dark green and shiny above, lighter below, with a prominent midrib and very short petioles.
Flower: Small, white to pink, 5 petals, fragrant occurring in upright clusters at the branch tips or in axils, 2 to 4 inches long, appearing in spring.
Fruit: Two to 5-winged drupe that closely resemble the fruit of Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), yellow-green changing to brown.
Twig: Reddish brown to gray-brown and slender.
Bark: When very young, gray and shreddy-scaly, becoming gray-brown and smooth, older bark developes splits and may become scaly.
Form: A shrub or small tree to 25 feet, with an open, irregular crown. May form dense thickets.
Looks like: swamp cyrilla - common sweetleaf - redbay - summersweet clethra
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Cliftonia monophylla is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting buckwheat tree.
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson