August Plant of the Month – The Franklinia Altamaha Tree

August Plant of the Month

Image is Courtesy of

Franklinia Altamaha, commonly called the Franklin Tree, was discovered growing along the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765 by Philadelphia botanists John and William Bartram.

William returned to the river in Georgia in 1777 and collected seeds that he was eventually able to propagate and have produce flowering trees in 1781; all Franklinia trees known to exist today are descended from these seeds collected in 1777 and are named after John Bartram’s good friend Benjamin Franklin. The tree has been extinct in the wild since the early 19th century.

More About the Tree

It is a beautiful somewhat small tree (growing 15-20’ tall and 10’15’ wide) with large creamy white blooms that do not appear until late summer or early fall. It puts on a show of orange and deep red leaves in the fall. It is slow growing and tolerates many variations of sun and shade.

It does not like to have its roots disturbed so transplanting an established tree is not advised, but once it is happily established in well-drained acidic soil that is enhanced with plenty of organic material it will provide many years of landscape pleasure.