It is a vigorous, fast-growing deciduous shrub or tree growing to 8 m (26 ft) tall by 10 m (33 ft) broad, bearing masses of pendent, bell-shaped white flowers which appear in spring before the leaves. The flowers are followed by green, four-winged fruit. The leaves turn yellow in autumn.
The range of little silverbells is very restricted. It is principally in the panhandle of Florida, with isolated smaller outlier populations in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi. In the cited reference, this species is referred to as Halesia parviflora. The "champion" Halesia carolina on the 2015 American Forests Champion Trees national register is quite removed from its natural range, being situated in Roxbury, New Hampshire.
There is a great deal of confusion in the four-winged American silverbells. Four principal species names have been used: H. carolina, H. parviflora, H. monticola, and H. tetraptera. The taxon being described here is the one that has also been described as H. parviflora. Some botanists have discarded the name H. carolina because the original material is viewed as ambiguous; others maintain that the original material is this species, so carolina is here being used instead of parviflora, since H. carolina L. has clear precedence.
- "Halesia carolina L.". The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- "Halesia carolina". Missouribotanicalgarden.org. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Elbert L. Little, Jr. (1976). Atlas of United States Trees, Eastern Minor Hardwoods. 4. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. p. 60.
- "Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)". americanforests.org. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- "International Plant Names Index: Halesia parviflora". International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "International Plant Names Index: Halesia carolina". International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "RHS Plant Selector Halesia carolina Vestita Group AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Media related to Halesia carolina at Wikimedia Commons
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