Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the June 10, 2012 Newsletter issued from the woods of the Loess Hill Region a few miles east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

A small tree with slender branches overhanging a little stream in the bottoms bore broad leaves with low teeth along the margins, as shown below:

Two-wing Silverbell, HALESIA DIPTERA, leaves

Nicely hidden in deep shadows below the leaves were some slightly immature fruits developed well enough to show what curious things they were. That's them below:

Two-wing Silverbell, HALESIA DIPTERA, fruits

This is the Two-wing Silverbell, HALESIA DIPTERA, a member of the little-known and smallish Snowbell Family, the Styracaceae. That family is home mostly to trees and shrubs that often bear showy flowers. Earlier in the spring our silverbell also bore inch-long (25mm), white flowers, but now they are long gone. The drooping flowers are pretty enough for the species to be planted widely as an ornamental.

Back in Kentucky and in other eastern states -- especially on moist, shaded slopes in the Appalachians -- I used to enjoy seeing the closely-related Four-wing Silverbell, Halesia carolina. That species occurs spottily in Mississippi, but here the main silverbell is the two-winged one, the two wings clearly visible on the fruits in the above picture. Our two-winged species is restricted mostly to the Deep South's Coastal Plain.