Virginia Tech Dendrology

common sweetleaf Symplocaceae Symplocos tinctoria (L.) L'Hér. Listen to the Latin symbol: SYTI
Leaf: Alternate, simple, entire margin or nearly so, oblong or narrowly elliptical, broadest near or above middle, thick, 2 to 6 inches long, tardily deciduous, shiny green above, yellow-green below. Sweet tasting.
Flower: Species is monoecious; small and clustered, white petals and numerous stamens, appear before the new leaves.
Fruit: Dry drupes, 1/2 inch long, egg-shaped, orangish brown, mature in late summer.
Twig: Moderate, reddish brown, chambered pith, leaf scar with one-bundle scar, buds large, sharp pointed, scales fringed.
Bark: Grayish green or brown, initially smooth but later develops warty lenticels and shallow splits.
Form: A shrub or small tree up to 30 feet, branches curve upward.
Looks like: buckwheat tree - loblolly bay - swamp cyrilla - redbay
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Symplocos tinctoria is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting common sweetleaf.
More Information: Fall Color
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2018 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654