University of Maryland Extension

Heptacodium miconioides - Seven-son flower

Heptacodium miconioides, seven-son flower, is a deciduous small tree or a large shrub growing 15 – 20 feet tall and 8 – 10 feet wide. It prefers to grow in full sun or part shade. Seven-son flower provides flowers for butterflies, pollinators, and people in the late summer when most every other plant has finished blooming. It is cold tolerant from USDA zone 5-9 and tolerates various soil conditions, although it prefers to grow in acidic, moist, well drained soils. The flower buds appear as terminal clusters in the early summer, but do not begin to bloom until August and will continue to bloom into September. Fragrant, creamy white flowers are held in a flattened cluster. The flowers mature into small, dry capsules that are held by very showy rose purple sepals that will last 2- 3 weeks, giving the plant the illusion that it is blooming for a second time. The narrow leaves are a shiny dark green with three distinct central veins and a wavy margin, which are arranged in an opposite fashion on the stems. They emerge in early spring and expand to 3-6 inches long, staying on the tree until late November with no real fall coloration. The tan bark exfoliates to reveal a lighter colored bark underneath, similar to crape myrtle trees. Use it as a specimen or accent plant by a patio or in a multi shrub border or in a naturalized area.
Heptacodium shown as a single-trunked tree in landscape
Heptacodium miconioides can be grown
as a single-trunked tree or large multi-branched shrub.
Photo: Ginny Rosenkranz, UME
Close-up of peeling bark on Heptacodiium
H. miconioides
has peeling bark which
expands its season of interest.
Photo: Suzanne Klick, UME
Close-up of Heptacodium foliage
Note the prominent three veins and wavy margins on the leaves.
Photo: Suzanne Klick, UME
Pink sepals on Heptacodium
After the flowers fade, the deep rose-pink sepals remain for a
few more weeks.
Photo: Suzanne Klick, UME
Problems
There are no insect pests listed. H. miconioides can develop Botryopshaeria. The fungus Botryosphaeria can cause branch dieback. Cankers girdle and kill twigs and branches. Botryosphaeria enters natural openings in the bark, such as lenticels or through pruning cuts and other wounds. Plants most susceptible to the disease are wounded plants that are under drought stress. In dry years, keep the seven-son flower watered regularly and out of drought stress. Pruning out the infected stems seems to solve the problem rapidly.

Helping Out Pollinators
To help pollinators, plant H. miconioides for beautiful white blooms in mid-August to mid-September. This plant attracts pollinators such as honey bees, wasps, butterflies, and pollinating flies. The flowers are an excellent pollen and nectar source for pollinators and for predators to obtain nectar during part of the year when there is not an abundance of woody food sources available. Use this plant to help diversify a landscape and help pollinators.


This sachem skipper butterfly is one of the many pollinators
found on Heptacodium flowers.
Photo: Suzanne Klick, UME

Authors: Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator, UME, Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset Counties, and Stanton Gill, Extension Specialist, UME, Central Maryland Research and Education Center

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