This is a sub-evergreen tree, and attains the height of from fifty to sixty feet, with a diameter of stem eighteen or twenty inches. It is a native of low latitudes, and appears to be confined to the maritime parts of the United States from Virginia to lower Louisiana. Its growth is straight and clear of shoots to about half its height, where its branches diverge regularly, and, as they ascend, spread more loosely, forming an extensive spread of foliage. The bark on old trees, which is used in tanning, is thick and furrowed, but is smooth while the tree is young. The leaves are toothed on the edges, from three to six inches in length, alternate, oval-acuminate in shape, and smooth and glossy on the upper surface. It blooms about the middle of July, and its flowers, which are broad, white, and sweet-scented, come forth in succession during August and September. This tree possesses the singularly agreeable property of bearing flowers when it is only three or four feet high.
The wood of the gordonia is light, of a mahogany hue and silky texture, which fits it for use in the inside of furniture. It is, however, liable to decay when exposed to alternations of temperature. A barren, moist soil is best suited to its growth, where its thrift is surprisingly luxuriant. "When artificially raised the soil should be prepared of a compost of peat, leaf-mould, and sand, kept moist and shaded from the sun. It is propagated generally by layers, but sometimes from seed, and belongs to the same natural family as our tea-plant of commerce, bohAe.