Native to wet soils (loblollies) of the Coastal Plain from Virginia to Louisiana. Narrow, erect, rather open-structured tree to 3040 ft. tall and half as wide, with shiny, oval leaves 46 in. long. Attractive flowers up to 212 in. wide bloom from midspring to midautumn; they look something like single white camellias and are enhanced by a big central brush of yellow stamens. Although wild trees grow in bogs, those in garden conditions need good drainage. They are sometimes transplanted from the wild (with the owner's permission, of course), but these transplants are quite difficult to grow. Easier to grow are container-grown plants from garden centers, but these too are finicky.
x Gordlinia grandiflora 'Sweet Tea'. This selection of a rare cross between Gordonia and Franklinia has resulted in a semievergreen tree that features 5-in. white flowers from mid- to late summer. Grows 20-30 ft. tall in a sunny to slightly shaded bed with good garden soil and even moisture.