If you’re looking for something a little different to add to the garden, why not take a look at the fried egg tree (Gordonia axillaris). Yes, it has a peculiar name, but its interesting characteristics and ease of care makes this a unique addition to the landscape.
What is a Fried Egg Plant?
The fried egg tree, or Gordonia plant, is native to Southeast Asia where it is known as Polyspora axillaris. It is also referred to by its other scientific names of Franklinia axillaris and Camellia exillaris. This interesting plant thrives in swampy areas along the Atlantic and in the Gulf Coastal Plains in the United States.
Gordonia is a small evergreen tree that can grow up to 16 feet and gets its name because its big white flowers bear a resemblance to a fried egg. The unusual, aromatic ‘fried egg flower,’ which is about 4 inches in diameter, is white with five petals and a cluster of yellow stamens in the middle.
Fried egg plants bloom from autumn to spring and the flowers resemble those of the closely related camellia, although they do not brown on the plant. When they fall to the ground, they look like fried eggs. The leaves are glossy and dark green with a leathery texture.
In the winter, the tips of the leaves become red, giving this plant special off-season appeal. The bark is shiny and orange and brown in color. The plant is slow to get going, but the growth rate increases once it is established.
How to Care for a Fried Egg Plant
The fried egg flower likes full sun to part shade. They need good drainage; therefore, planting on a slope near a wet area is often the best bet. The fried egg plant needs slightly acidic soil and does not grow well in calcium rich soil.
Mulch helps keep competition from weeds or surrounding grass to a minimal.
Fertilizing in the spring with azalea and camellia food will help the plant reach its full potential.
Pruning helps to achieve a bushy growth but is not necessary. The plant will take on a natural dome shape when left alone. You can also trim the plant like a hedge when it is young.
There is normally no concern with disease or pests.
Some people don’t like the mass of large flowers that collect under the tree. However, this should be seen as a plus because it gives a nice decorative effect. Also, because Gordonias are slow growing when young, you may want to buy a more mature plant if you do not want to wait.