I was at Biltmore Estate, in Asheville NC, on Jan. 29, 2013. I found this tree in flower and wonder... is it a Wintersweet, some kind of witch hazel, or something else? I'm really sorry I could not get a better shot - as it is, this has been cropped to as close as possible. Thanks for all your help. Someone on this site is very FAST at ID*ing plants!
Does anyone else ascertain that this plant displays opposite arrangement? I seem to see it somewhat - which would then fit with growin's proposition of Honeysuckle, and drop the rest of the the proposals (so far) which are all alternately arranged species.
hikerpat might amuse us by providing the complete original image and any others available - instead of only the cropped version - as there might be additional clues to be found there.
Thanks, everyone, for trying. As noted, it is a tree; one with white flowers. The center of the blossoms appears to have yellow, either pistils or, stamens. Unfortunately, I replaced the original pic with the cropped version. Sorry for this.
If you will look at the left side, you will notice some of the blossoms appear to have appendages. Perhaps it is bisexual?? Maybe there is no such thing in trees.
But, a shrub it is not.
I have asked the Biltmore, but they cannot tell me. Many of the trees, shrubs, and flowers do not have labels; this is one of them.
Is there no way to post the entire original image taken at Biltmore?
The latest closeup shows frost damaged blooms, some newly opened, and some expanding from buds. I think it more clearly indicates that this plant is opposite in arrangement of buds - supporting growin's contention of Lonicera.
If hikerpat cannot show us anything else, I'd suggest that this plant is likely Lonicera fragrantissima. I grew up with a large border of this species, which ritually had to be whacked back as it annually overstepped its bounds. The raggedy character of the branches and twigs seems to be displayed in the minimum of information provided.
Winter/Fragrant Honeysuckle typically will push its blooms early in the year in KY, so late January in North Carolina (given any sort of warm spell) sure is not out of the question. If it was a colder day when the picture was taken, then fragrance would likely be much less evident than on a warmer day (more volatiles). Winter Honeysuckle will usually also always have some persistent foliage evident. Some other species of early blooming Lonicera might not.
I am relentless in asking for the full original image, because there is much more useful information possible when one can see an entire plant. Has the original image been deleted? Were no other images taken anywhere in the vicinity of this plant (near, or farther away as part of the landscape or garden context)?
As to whether the plant is a "tree or shrub", different observers will have different opinions thereof - usually based on ultimate height or number of trunks. I will call a species by its "normal" condition, despite its treatment in a landscape. One can find single-stem or "tree form" individuals of many plants that almost anyone would otherwise describe as a shrub - viburnums, forsythia, lilac, and loads more. They are still for all intents and purposes shrubs, treated uniquely in a landscape.
Biltmore is a very old designed landscape. Originally conceived and executed in the 1890s (thank you, George Vanderbilt and Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.), plants here could very well be 120 years old. For simple plants like honeysuckle, this can mean reaching the apex of age and performance - one might even say tree-like in habit.
If hikerpat could recall where in the landscape this plant is located (which particular garden, near another particularly significant tree or collection of plants), I could make an "ask" of friends. I've spent more than a bit of time with professional staff at Biltmore - we share a common interest in design/maintenance of Olmsted-designed landscapes - and I bet that they might be of some assistance if this plant ID isn't satisfactorily solved here.
I agree with VV, Lonerica fragrantissima; also agreeing that the temperature and also humidity and wind direction could have made it harder to detect than normal, especially if the blooms were frost-nipped. Last year mine was starting to pop its buds already here in southwestern PA; this year it's closed up tight.