There’s a unique plant with a flower that looks a lot like a fried egg, sunny side up.
The fried egg tree (Gordonia axillaris) is native to Southeast Asia where it is known as Polyspora axillaris.
It is in the Camellia family so it is also known as Camellia exillaris or Franklinia axillaris.
Gordonia is a small evergreen tree that can grow up to 16 feet and gets its name as the big white flowers with the bright yellow center bear a resemblance to a friend 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
The fried egg plants bloom from autumn to spring and when the flowers fall to the ground, they look even more 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 grows slowly in the beginning but growth 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 so planting it 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. Mulching helps keep the weeds down.
It should be fertilized in the spring with azalea and camellia food to help the plant reach its full potential. Pruning helps the plant achieve a bushy growth but this 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. The plant is not susceptible to disease or pests so this is not a concern.
Planting Fried Egg Plant
Fried egg plants are best planted in fall in a location that gets full sun. Choose the location carefully as they have invasive roots and can spread 6 to 8 feet wide and tall when mature.
This is why these plants are best reserved for garden backgrounds and open areas. If irrigation is limited, they will stay smaller and are less likely to invade non-irrigated areas. If the plant is grown under rich, well-irrigated soil conditions they will become difficult to control
They are not fussy about soil and water, and adapt well to most climates, whether cold and rainy or hot and dry, which is why you may find contradictory information about growing them. This interesting plant thrives in swampy areas along the Atlantic and in the Gulf Coastal Plains in the United States and is also cultivated in locations like Southern California and on Vancouver Island in B.C., Canada.
In Southern California the plant requires regular irrigation during the first year, especially if winter rains are scarce. Once they are established, they should need little summer irrigation. After the first year, you should cut the stems back almost to the ground in the fall to refresh the plants; new growth will resume with the winter rains.