Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture

Cyrilla racemiflora - TiTi, Leatherwood, Swamp Cyrilla
"This is one of our favorite East Texas native plants. At home all across the South from Virginia to Florida and west into eastern Texas, this species always hits the spot when in peak bloom. Conspicuous fingers of cream-white flowers literally carpet the tree. In our garden, it seems like every bee in the county is after a TiTi. I have had what is reported to be TiTi honey - but not being a honey connisseur leaves me unqualified to make a judgment on just how good or bad it really was - it seemed fine to me. When not in bloom, most find the glossy dark green leaves appealing. The tree is evergreen to semi-evergreen, and leaves are simple, alternate, generally oblong 2 to 4 inches long and 1” wide; while reported to have good fall color, ours have been only fair. Titi can reach 15’ tall when given room to grow. We prefer to train the tree as a multi-stem specimen with the lower third exposed. The tree suckers in moist organic soils but is fairly easy to keep in bounds with annual or biennial pruning. We find TiTi to be an extremely durable tree in a moist habitat; yet, it does almost as well in drier spots once well established under good mulch. The tree has an appealing structure. In full sun with a little pruning here and there, Titi can be quite dense and, again, a real standout in bloom. We think the species is probably best in mass and positioned in wet full-sun spots in the garden for maximum vigor. There are very few cultivars in the trade. ‘Granitesville’ in the Arboretum is a smaller leafed version and slower growing for us. There are several clones floating in collections here and there that may deserve greater attention.

Cyrilla parviflora is closely related with similar preferences, basically a smallerleafed and, for us, slower growing TiTi. Cyrilla arida is from central Florida, tolerates dry soils well, is a bit denser and more bush-like than C. racemiflora. The species is easy to propagate from seed or cuttings. As one might suspect from the suckering nature of the plant, root cuttings work well."

Dave Creech, Director of SFA Gardens