Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

BUCKWHEAT TREE
Cliftonia monophylla
Cyrillaceae

Leaves are simple, alternate, tardily deciduous, leathery, and smooth. Leaves are elliptical to oblanceolate with mostly invisible lateral veins. In contrast, lateral veins are evident in Cyrilla. Twigs are smooth with chestnut brown buds, shield-shaped leaf scars and one bundle scar. Bark is mottled brown and smooth. White flowers are stalked on the tip of branches forming fragrant racemes. Buckwheat-tree is named after the buckwheat-looking fruit, which is a 2-5 winged drupe. Form is a shrub or small tree up to 9 m (30 ft) in height that may form dense stands in swamps and along streams and rivers in the southeast Coastal Plain. Intolerant of shade. Deer browse the foliage and bees visit the flowers.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

To view examples, click on the thumbnail below: