The Franklin Tree has been extinct in the wild since 1803. It was first discovered growing abundantly in a 2-3 acre stretch along the Altamaha River in Georgia by John and William Bartram in 1765. William Bartram collected seeds and grew the tree successfully in his garden in Philadelphia, and all specimens in existence today are descendants of the trees William grew. The Franklin tree has never again been observed in the wild. William named the tree after the one and only Ben Franklin, a close friend of John Bartram’s.
This specimen tree has beautiful, large white flowers that bloom from July to August, and their fragrance is reminiscent of orange blossoms or honeysuckle. The leaves turn a brilliant red/orange/purple in the fall, making this tree a striking addition to any garden. The Franklin Tree is host to the Promethea Silkmoth (pictured above) and also attracts hummingbirds. Once established, this tree can live for a century or more.