Silverbell

You are talking about our native two-winged silverbell, or snowdrop tree, Halesia diptera, which is fairly common in eastern Texas, primarily occurring in moist woodland habitat. It is stunning when it flowers in March and April and it is a great choice for your garden. It is a small-to-medium-sized tree, normally no taller than 20-30 feet, with an upright habit and attractively striped bark that develops an interesting furrowed pattern as the tree ages. It normally grows as a multi-trunked specimen but is easily trained as a single. Attractive, bright-green, winged, seed pods hang on the tree throughout the summer, turning beige in autumn – wonderfully displayed against the backdrop of leaves that turns bright yellow before dropping. 

Silverbell flowers the heaviest in full sun but only grow it in full sun if you can keep it consistently moist – it can even take periodic flooding. Partial shade, particularly during hot summer afternoons, is desirable and it will also grow and flower well in moderately shaded conditions, such as underneath tall pine trees. Give it rich soil that is on the acid side; as with so many of our favorite plants, its growing requirements allow it to pair well with azaleas and camellias. 

For plant connoisseurs (a refined term for plant geeks) there is a variety that has larger flowers, Halesia diptera var. magniflora, and it is well worth searching for.

David Duling is the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Darrin Duling
Author: Darrin DulingEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens located at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble. I hold The Royal Horticultural Society of England certificate of training, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, diploma of horticulture and a Master of Science degree in plant taxonomy from the University of Reading, England. I have worked in botanic gardens in England, Thailand, Florida and New York, and was sole proprietor of Duling Designs LLC, a landscape design/consultation business in Greenwich, Conn. My botanical explorations have taken me to Brazil, Brunei, Sabah, Singapore, Thailand, Peru and other exotic destinations.