Sniff with care: colletia

Another couple of weird plants today! I like fragrant plants, I like spiky plants and I like freaky plants so the South American genus of colletia is my kind of genus. There are lots of species but very few, if any, are seen for sale in garden centres, probably because they are dangerous to out-of-control children running around and are likely to wound any buyers before they reach the till. I like a bit of character in my plants!

These two were seen at Dublin Botanics the other week but I am sure they were incorrectly labelled. I have named them as I know them. I may not be right but I am sure I am ‘righter’ than the labels!

Colletias are ‘evergreen’ shrubs that are almost leafless and the work of the leaves is done by the stems which are usually thick, rather like cacti. The stems are tough, leathery and waxy which I assume is an adaptation to a dry natural environment. In cultivation these are shrubs for a sunny, dry spot. I think they would be great for seaside gardens. They are hardy but might get killed in extreme cold: most references say down to -5c but I think they would take more than that. Their extreme viciousness means they would make excellent hedges or screens if you could buy or afford enough plants. So that they get enough sun and warmth to promote profuse flowering they are often grown against a sunny wall and they would be good around or under the windows of a house if you are security conscious. These really are impenetrable!

colletia spinossima

The first is Colletia paradoxa (C. cruciata). This is probably the most bizarre of the two species usually offered for sale by specialist nurseries (and neither is common). The tiny leaves soon drop off the stems which are flattened and grow to form triangular, needle-tipped mega-prickles that grow in pairs at right angles to each other. Fall into this and you will know about it. In autumn the stems carry small clusters of tiny, bell-shaped, five-petalled white flowers that are sweetly scented. Fortunately their scent is strong enough to carry on the wind so you do not have to get too close to the plant to appreciate it – Do not approach to sniff without goggles.

colletia

Colletia armata is probably the best for the garden because, although the stems are just as dangerously armed, they are slender and form a denser shrub. The blooms are more densely produced too and when in bloom the shrub is a cloud of fragrant flowers. Something so showy and fragrant at this time of year is a real treat. I think C. spinosissima is the same plant or at least very similar.

Both reach about 3m high when mature and are long lived.

 

Geoff’s Rating

9/10

Garden Rating

7/10

, , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

An Irish Gardener

Gardening in Ireland, our own garden, gardens visited and book reviews

AltroVerde

un altro blog sul giardinaggio...

vegetablurb

four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!

The Tropical Flowering Zone

Photographic Journals from the Tropics

Flowery Prose

Growing words about writing, gardening, and outdoors pursuits in Alberta, Canada.

ontheedgegardening

Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I am a freelance Photographer born and raised in the Southeast. I have uprooted my life in Macon Georgia for a new life as an unlikely cowgirl in love with a handsome cowboy in Wyoming. I hope you enjoy my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to conserve the nations garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow

HERITAGE IRISES

An English experience of gardening in Ireland - and back in the UK

%d bloggers like this: