Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tropical Croton

Codiaeum variegatum
A tropical, evergreen shrub to small tree that is native to Malaysia but is now widely popular around the world. Codiaeum is a genus within the Euphorbia family. Some records include: largest on record - 30 x 10 ( rarely over 13 ) feet; fastest growth rate - 3 feet. It can be used as a focal point specimen plant or as a hedge. It is also used as a summer feature plant in planters in colder climates where it is an annual. It is not related to the Croton alabamensis, a shrub of much cooler temperate climates.
The leaves, up to 18 ( rarely over 12 ) inches in length, are highly variable in shape and color.
Hardy zones 9b to 12 in full sun to full shade ( better foliage color with more sun ) preferring moist, sandy, well drained soil. Tropical Croton prefers a soil PH of less than 7.5 and is moderately tolerant of drought and salt.


* photos taken on May 15 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 11 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photos taken on May 4 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Wash., DC

* photo taken on June 19 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Aug 5 2015 in Columbia, MD

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cuphea

Cuphea
A genus of perennials and small shrubs that are part of the Lythraceae family.

Cuphea hyssopifolia ( Mexican Heather )
A moderate growing, rounded, evergreen shrubby perennial, reaching up to 3 x 7 ( rarely over 2 x 2.7 outside tropics ) feet in size. It is native from Mexico to Guatemala.
The lance-shaped leaves, up to 1 inch in length, are deep green.
The purplish-pink ( rarely white ) flowers are borne on short axilliary racemes during summer, lasting well into autumn.
Hardy zones 9 to 12 ( reports of 8, often used much further north as annual ) in full sun to partial shade on moist, fertile. well drained soil. It is extremely heat tolerant. Propagation is from seed or stem-tip cuttings.

* photo taken on July 21 2012 in Columbia, MD


Cuphea ignea ( Firecracker Plant )
Also called Cigar Flower. A fast growing, bushy, evergreen perennial ( annual in cooler climates ), reaching up to 3.5 x 3 ( rarely over 3 ) feet. It is native to Jamaica and Mexico.
The pointed-oval leaves, up to 3 inches in length, are bright green. The orange-red, tubular flowers, up to 1 inch in length, are borne late spring through autumn. In tropical climates, the flowers may appear throughout the year.
Hardy zones 9b to 12 ( tolerating as low as 20 F ) in full sun to partial shade on moist, fertile, well drained soil. Occasionally pinch the stem tips if a more compact habit is desired. Propagation is from seed or stem-tip cuttings.

* photos taken on Aug 25 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC


'David's Variety'
Larger in size, reaching up to 4 x 3 feet.
The leaves and the yellowish-orange flowers are also larger.
Hardy zones 8b +. It is tougher in hot dry climates. Propagation is from stem-tip cuttings.

* photo taken on Aug 25 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC


Cuphea micropetala
A rounded shrub, reaching a maximum size of 6 x 5 feet, that is native to Mexico.
The lance-shaped leaves, up to 7 inches in length, are bright green.
The golden-yellow to orangish-red, tubular flowers, up to 2 inches in length, are borne on terminal racemes all summer long lasting well into autumn.
Hardy zones 9 to 11 ( it may be root hardy to 10 F ) in full sun to partial shade on moist, fertile, well drained soil. Cut back during late winter. Propagation is from seed or stem-tip cuttings.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Missouri Maidenbush

Leptopus phyllanthoides
A moderate growing, small shrub, reaching a maximum size of 3 x 4.5 feet, that is native to limestone cliffs in the south-central U.S. ( from Oklahoma to central Missouri; south to southwest Texas to central Arkansas...with a disjunct in central Alabama where it is found on limestone glades in Bibb and Blount Counties ). Some records include: fastest growth rate - 2 feet. It is very rare to endangered in the wild.
The obovate leaves, up to 0.5 x 0.4 inches in size, are blue-green.
The greenish flowers, up to 0.5 inches long, are borne from the leaf axils during late spring through summer.
Hardy zones 6 to 8 ( est ) in full sun on just about any well drained soil. It is very tolerant of heat and drought. Barely known in cultivation...this shrub may hold great promise of greenery on difficult extremely hot parking lot islands and other commercial sites.

* photo taken on Aug 23 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC




Friday, March 27, 2015

Wintergreen

Chimaphila

Chimaphila maculata ( Striped Wintergreen )
A perennial, reaching up to 1 foot in height, that is native to dry, acidic pine woods in eastern North America ( from Traverse City, Michigan to Ontario to southern Quebec to New Hampshire; south to northeast Mississippi to northern Georgia ). It is critically endangered in Ontario where just 4 populations remain and Quebec with just one tiny remaining population. It is also endangered in Illinois, Maine and New York.
The lance-shaped leaves, up to 2.8 x 1 inch in size, are deep green with a whitish midrib and veins.
Up to 5 fragrant, white flowers are borne per umbel during summer
Hardy zones 5 to 8, it thrives in partial to full shade on acidic soil with pine needle mulch. It is typically found in coniferous and pine-oak forests in the wild.

* photo of unknown internet source

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

* photos taken on Apr 27 2015 in Howard Co., MD


Chimaphila umbellata ( Wintergreen )

Also called Pipsissewa. An evergreen perennial, reaching up to 14 inches in height, that is native to dry woodland. It is a widespread native of North America's boreal and mixed forest region ( from Alaska to Quebec & Newfoundland; south to the mountains of California, AZ & NM to northeast Iowa to northern Indiaana to southern West Virginia to North Carolina ). It is also native to the boreal region of northern Eurasia. It is rare in all of Maryland and critically endangered in Kentucky where it has a disjunct distribution in just one county in the south-central part of the State.
The toothed leaves, up to 2.8 x 0.9 inches in size, are glossy deep green. They are borne in pairs or whorls of 3 or 4.
4 to 8 white to pinkish flowers, up to 0.6 inches wide, are borne per umbel of 4 to 8 during summer
Hardy zones 2 to 7, it thrives in partial to full shade on acidic sandy soil with pine needle mulch. It is typically found in coniferous forests in the wild.

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

* historical archive photos

Polkadots

Dyschoriste linearis ( Polkadots )
A groundcover perennial, reaching up to 1 x 2.5 feet in size, that is native from western Oklahoma to western Texas.
The oppositely-arranged, oblanceolate leaves, up to 2.7 inches in length, are bright green.
The lavender-purple ( purple striped throat ) flowers, up to 1.1 x 1 inch in size, are borne during late spring, repeating during late summer if rainfall is adequate. The flowers are borne from the leaf axils. They attract butterflies and honey bees.
Hardy zones 7 to 9 in full sun to partial shade on just about any well drained soil. It is tolerant of extreme heat, drought, alkaline soil and temporary flooding.

* photo taken on Aug 23 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC

Toadflax

Linaria vulgaris
A rhizomatous perennial, reaching up to 3 x 1 foot, that is a widespread native of Europe and northern Asia where it is often found on roadsides and sand dunes. While I find it to be too beautiful to call a weed, it can become invasive on some sites.
The linear leaves, up to 2.4 x 0.1 inches in size, are nlue-green to mid-green.
The yellow flowers are borne late spring to mid-autumn. Linaria purpurea ( Purple Toadflax ) is similar except with pink or purple flowers.
Hardy zones 5 to 8 in full sun on sandy, well drained soil. Propagation is from division or seed sown during spring.

* photos taken on Sep 30 2014 in Howard Co., MD


'Canon Went'
Pink flowers; it is otherwise identical to species.
It comes true from seed.

'Springside White'
Pure white flowers, it is otherwise identical to species.
It comes true from seed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cestrum

Cestrum
A genus of deciduous or evergreen, shrubs or small trees that are part of the larger nightshade family.
Most species thrive in full sun to partial shade on just about any fertile, well drained soils that are moist during summer. Propagation is from seed or softwood cuttings.

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014


Cestrum aurantiacum ( Orange Cestrum )
A semi-evergreen to evergreen, scrambling, large shrub, reaching a maximum size of 20 x 10 feet, that is native from Mexico to Guatemala. It can be kept pruned as a more tidy shrub.
The aromatic, ovate leaves, up to 7 x 3 inches in size, are bright green. The leaves are slightly hairy at first then becoming smooth.
The orange flowers are borne 10 to 15 on terminal clusters, up to 4 inches wide, during spring and summer. They often repeat bloom during autumn.
Fleshy white berries follow.
Hardy zones 8 to 12.

Cestrum diurnum ( Day Jessamine )
A fast growing, small tree, reaching a maximum size of 35 x 38 feet, that is native to tropical America and the Caribbean.
The elliptical leaves, up to 6 x 2 inches in size, are bright green.
The white, tubular flowers are borne up to 20 on a panicle that is up to 4 inches in length. The flowers are fragrant during the daytime.
They are followed by small, purple berries.
Hardy zones 8 to 12. It is moderately salt tolerant and very drought tolerant.

Cestrum elegans ( Red Cestrum )
Also called Cestrum purpureum. A fast growing, arching shrub, reaching a maximum size of 13 x 10 feet, that is native to tropical forests of Mexico. Some records include: 5 years - 10 x 6.5 feet.
The aromatic or oblong leaves, up to 7 x 3 inches in size, are hairy and olive-green.
The red to bright purple, tubular flowers are borne on dense, terminal panicles during summer to fall.
They are followed by rounded, purplish-red berries.
Hardy zones 8 to 10.

'Smithii'
Lance-shaped leaves are orange to scarlet-red flowers.

Cestrum 'Newellii'
A fast growing, arching shrub, reaching a maximum size of 13 x 10 feet. It can become invasive in some regions. Some records include: 5 years - 10 x 6.5 feet.
The aromatic, narrowly-ovate leaves, up to 4 inches in length, are hairy deep green.
The unscented, rich deep red flowers are borne on clusters up to 5 inches in length. They may appear throughout the year in mild climates.
They are followed by rounded, deep red berries.
Hardy zones 8 to 12.

Cestrum nocturnum ( Night-Scented Jessamine )
A fast growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 20 x 13 ( rarely over 12 ) feet, that is native to the Caribbean. It has become invasive in some parts of the world including Australia.
The thick leaves, up to 8 x 2 inches in size, are bright green.
The abundant, very fragrant, bright greenish-yellow, tubular flowers are borne summer into late autumn. The scent can be detected as far away as 50 feet during night.
They are followed by ovoid white berries.
Hardy zones 9 to 12 ( possibly even 7 & 8 as a perennial on protected sites with deep winter mulch ).

Cestrum parqui ( Green Cestrum )
A fast growing, suckering, upright, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 18 x 10 feet, that is native to Chile. Some records include: 5 years - 5 x 6.5 feet. It can become an invasive weed in some warmer climate regions.
The lance-shaped to elliptical leaves, up to 6 x 1.7 inches in size, are mid-green.
The abundant, bright yellow, tubular flowers are borne on terminal racemes throughout most of the year. The flowers are fragrant at night.
They are followed by purplish-brown berries.
Hardy zones 8 to 12 ( 7b as a perennial on protected sites with deep winter mulch...prunings from the old christmas tree makes a good protective mulch ).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Saltbush

Atriplex
A genus of mostly evergreen shrubs that are native to mostly dry regions around the world. Many species are valuable as cover for wildlife where few other options are available. Many other species are great for hedging.
Many are tolerant of extreme drought, seashore conditions and salty soils. Most can be cut back hardy, responding with dense, vigorous growth. Propagation is from seed or softwood cuttings. Seed should be soaked overnight in water before sowing.

Atriplex barklayana
An evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 1.5 x 4 feet, that is native to Baja California.
The leaves, up to 1 inch in length, are whitish.
Hardy zones 10 to 11.

Atriplex canescens ( Fourwing Saltbush )
A long-lived, fast growing, dense, medium-sized, evergreen shrub, rarely reaching up to 7 x 15 feet, that is a widespread native to dry regions of western North America ( from eastern Washington State to southern Alberta to central North Dakota; south to Mexico ). A form found at Jericho, Utah is much more tree-like, reaching a maximum size of 15 x 18 feet. Some records include: 3 years - 6.6 x 15 feet. It is very deep rooted, with root known to reach 40 feet in depth though rarely over 20.
The linear leaves, up to 2 inches in length, are gray.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 ( tolerating -40 F ). It is extremely heat tolerant and very tolerant of drought, salt, sand, clay, alkaline soil and brackish water. It requires 8 to 24 inches of average yearly rainfall or equivalent. Plants may take up to 4 years to establish and speed up in growth.

* photo taken by Loren St. John @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


'Marana'
A form released by the USDA that is especially well adapted to the Mediterranean climate regions of southern California with average yearly rainfall ranging from 8 to 4o inches. It is otherwise identical to the species.

* Photos courtesy of USDA NRCS.


Atriplex cinerea ( Coast Saltbush )
A dense, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 5 x 10 feet, that is native to coastal regions of southern Africa and Australia.
The leaves, up to 2 inches in length, are blue-green.
Hardy zones 9 to 10 in full sun on pure sand.

Atriplex halimus
A fast growing, spreading, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 13 x 10 feet, that is native to salt marshes of southern Europe. Some records include: 5 years - 13 feet.
The oblanceolate leaves, up to 2.5 inches in length, are silvery-white.
The greenish-white flowers are borne on spikes, up to 12 inches in length, during late summer.
Hardy zones 7 to 10.

Atriplex lentiformis ( Big Saltbush )
A moderate growing, deciduous or evergreen shrub, reaching up to 10 x 12 ( rarely over 8 ) feet, that is native to the southwestern U.S. ( from north-central California to central Nevada to southwest Utah; south to Mexico.
The ovate, triangular or oblong leaves are up to 2 x 1 inches in size.
The fruits provide valuable food for wildlife.
Tolerant of heat, wind, salt and alkaline soils. It requires 7 to 24 inches of average yearly rainfall.

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


var 'Breweri'
A fast growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 12 x 15 feet, that is native to coastal California.
The foliage is deeper silvery-green than the species.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 ( tolerating as low as -20 F ). It requires 7 to 24 inches of average yearly rainfall.

'Casa'
An especially drought hardy, attractive form selected by the USDA. Fast growing, dense and upright in habit, reaching up to 12 x 12 feet.
The foliage is silvery-green.
Hardy zones 8b to 10.

* Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.


Atriplex polycarpa ( Desert Saltbush )
An evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 7 x 6 feet, that is native to the southwestern U.S. ( from central California to central Nevada to southwest Utah; south to Mexico ).
The leaves are up to 0.5 inches in length, are silvery-white.
Hardy zones 7 to 10. It is extremely tolerant of drought and alkaline soils. It is also tolerant of wet soil. It requires an average yearly rainfall of 3.5 to 10 inches.

Atriplex semibaccata
A fast growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 2.5 x 7 feet, that is native to Australia.
The smooth to lightly-toothed, oblong leaves, up to 1.5 inches in length, are gray-green.
Hardy zones 7 to 10. It is tolerant of salty, highly alkaline and wet soil. It requires an average yearly rainfall of 8 to 16 inches.

'Corto'
A low groundcover form, reaching just 10 inches in height. It is a USDA introduction. Hardy zones 8b to 10 ( tolerating as low as 15 F ).

* Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.


Atriplex spinifera
A dense, evergreen shrub, reaching up to 6.5 x 6.5 feet, that is native to California.
The leaves, up to 1 inch in length, are gray.
Hardy zones 7 to 10. It requires an average yearly rainfall of 2 to 6 inches and a soil PH from 7 to 9. It is very salt tolerant and extremely drought tolerant.

Azara

Azara
A genus of evergreen large shrubs to small trees that is native to temperate regions of South America. These attractive landscape plants are often grown in the Pacific Northwest, the British Isles and western France.
They prefer deep, fertile, humus-rich soils with most species preferring a maritime climate with mild winters and summers that are humid but not extremely hot. Propagation is from seed or semi-ripe cuttings taken during summer.

Azara dentata ( Toothed Azara )
An evergreen small tree, reaching a maximum size of 33 x 33 feet, that is native to southern Chile. Some records include: fastest growth rate - 4 ( rarely over 2 ) feet.
The toothed leaves, up to 1.5 x 0.7 inches in size, are glossy deep green.
The golden-yellow flowers are followed by showy, small, yellow fruits.
Hardy zones 8 to 10.

Azara integrifolia ( Golden Spire Azara )
An evergreen small tree, reaching a maximum size of 40 x 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot, that is native to southern Chile. Some records include: fastest growth rate - 2 feet.
The smooth-edged, rounded leaves, up to 2.2 x 1.5 inches in size, are downy at first, turning glossy deep green.
The abundant, showy, yellow flowers are borne during spring.
They are followed by showy black fruits.
Hardy zones 8 to 10.

'Variegata'
Foliage is boldly-margined in yellow which turns to pink during winter.

Azara lanceolata ( Lanceleaf Azara )
An evergreen small tree, reaching a maximum size of 25 x 20 feet, that is native to southern Chile and Argentina. Some records include: fastest growth rate - 2 feet.
The toothed, lance-shaped leaves, up to 3 x 0.7 inches in size, are glossy deep green.
The abundant, showy, yellow flowers are borne during mid-spring.
They are followed by showy, small, bright purple fruits.
Hardy zones 8 to 10.

Azara microphylla ( Boxleaf Azara )
A very fast growing, small tree, reaching around 25 feet, that is native to southern Chile and Argentina. Some records include: fastest growth rate - 3 feet; 5 years - 7 feet; 10 years - 20 x 8 feet; largest on record - 45 x 27 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.7 inches. One of the largest on record grows in Ireland. It is long-lived, up to 100 years or more.
The toothed, obovate leaves, up to 1.5 ( usually half or less ) inches in length, are very glossy, very deep green. The leaves are borne on ferny frond-like sprays.
The fragrant, dull deep yellow flowers are borne in small clusters during early spring.
They are followed by red berries.
The gray bark has horizontal lenticels, becoming flaky with age.
Hardy zones 8 to 9 ( tolerating 5 F ) in sun or shade on fertile, well drained soil. Very shade tolerant. In the British Isles, it should be grown on a protected site such as along a warm south facing wall.

* historical archive photo


'Cold Hardy Form'
More upright, reaching up to 20 x 6 feet in 10 years.
Hardy north to zone 7 ( tolerating 0 F ).

'Variegata'
Slower growing, reaching up to 14 x 6 feet in 10 years; eventually reaching a maximum height of 34 ( rarely over 20 ) feet.
The very attractive foliage is boldly edged in golden-yellow.
It is slightly less hardy, tolerating 10 F with partial leaf drop at 15 F.

Azara petiolaris ( Holly Azara )
A moderate growing, evergreen shrub to small tree, reaching a maximum size of 20 x 12 feet that is native to Chile. Some records include: fastest growth rate -2 feet.
The toothed, obovate or rounded leaves, up to 3 x 2 ( rarely over 1.5 x 1.5 ) inches in size, are glossy bright green.
The fragrant, showy, bright yellow flowers are borne in dense clusters during to mid-spring.
The rounded fruits are glossy and black.
Hardy zones 8 to 10 in full sun to partial shade.

Azara serrata
An upright, evergreen small tree, reaching a maximum size of 33 x 33 feet, that is native to southern Chile. Some records include: fastest growth rate - 2 feet.
The sharply-toothed, oblong leaves, up to 3 x 1.3 ( rarely over 2.3 ) inches in size, are glossy deep green.
The abundant, showy, bright golden-yellow flowers are borne on dense, rounded clusters during late spring.
They are followed by showy black fruits.
Hardy zones 8 to 10.

Azara uruguayensis ( Uruguay Azara )
A large, evergreen shrub, reaching up to 12 feet in height, that is native to Uruguay, southern Brazil and Argentina.
The smooth-edged leaves, up to 3.5 x 2 inches in size, are bronze at first, turning to glossy deep green.
The fruits are blue.
Hardy zones 7 to 8b, it prefers hot humid summers unlike most other Azaras and is therefore not hardy in most of England.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Floss Flower

Ageratum houstonianum
An annual, reaching a maximum size of 2.6 x 2 ( rarely over 1.5 ) feet in size, that is native to Central America. It should be avoided in warm humid climates outside its native range where it has invasive potential. In colder climates where it is not invasive, it makes an attractive summer bedding plant. Many of the newer cultivars are dwarf, reaching less than 1 foot in height.
The broadly-ovate leaves, up to 3 inches long, are hairy and bright green.
The bright blue ( white and pink forms exist but are rare ) flowers are borne on dense flattened clusters, up to 4 inches wide, all summer long.
Hardy zones 10 to 12, however used in zone 4 to 9 as summer bedding annuals. It requires full sun ( except in very hot climates where some afternoon shade is appreciated ) and moist, fertile, well drained soil. Excessive overhead watering may contribute to powdery mildew.

* photos taken on Aug 1 2013 in Stratford, Ontario

Macbridea

Macbridea caroliniana
A rhizomatous perennial, reaching up to 2 feet in height, that is native to swamp forests on the Atlantic Coastal Plain from North Carolina, south to Georgia. It has become rare in the wild.
The oppositely-arranged leaves are up to 5 inches in length.
Hardy zones 7 to 8 in full sun to partial shade.

Trailing Arbutus

Epigaea repens
A dense, mat-forming,evergreen perennial, reaching up to 4 inches tall, that is native to eastern North America ( from Manitoba to Newfoundland; south to Iowa to western Kentucky to northwest Florida to Wilmington, North Carolina. It makes a good woodland groundcover where conditions are ideal if planted 10 inches apart.
The alternately-arranged, leathery, oval leaves, up to 2 inches in length, are glossy gray-green to deep green above, hairy bright green below.
The very fragrant, white to pale pink flowers, up to 0.5 inches wide, are borne on clusters of up to 5 during very early spring.
They are followed by a small berry, up to 0.5 inches wide, ripening during late summer.
Hardy zones 3 to 9 in partial shade on moist, very acidic ( preferrably sandy ), well drained soil. It is not salt or drought tolerant.

* photos of unknown internet source