Friday, May 14, 2010

Danae racemosa - Alexandrian Laurel

The one and only plant in the Danae genus, with is part of the much larger Lily family. The Alexandrian Laurel is an elegant, attractive evergreen shrub native to western Asia that reaches about 3 feet tall on average but can reach a maximum size of 6.5 x 10 feet on ideal sites. Its stems are upright and bamboo like. It is slow to medium growing with the fastest rate being about 2 feet per year. Though not invasive; it can spread by rhizomes.
The elliptical, glossy, thick, waxy, bright green, evergreen foliage ( or technically phylloclades ) reach up to 4 x 2.5 inches in size. The stems are also green.
The tiny greenish yellow flowers are borne on clusters and are followed by showy, 0.5 inch, orange-red berries that last well into the winter.
The Alexandrian Laurel can be propagated by seed or division.
It takes 5 to 7 years from seed to become a marketable size nursery plant making it rare in the horticultural trade despite being an excellent plant for areas of either moist or dry shade.
Prefers moist, light, well drained fertile soil on partially shaded to shaded sites and is hardy from zones 6 through 9 ( may be turned into a perennial during severe winters in 6 ). It is tolerant of both clay and sand though may grow somewhat slower. It should not be planted in full sun where its foliage will get "bleached".
It is very drought tolerant and does grow in Mediterranean climates where it can become deciduous if not given a deep watering once or twice a month. In the Mediterranean most of its growth occurs during the winter rainy season instead of spring. This plant grows in a similar way to Bamboo with each stem lasting about 3 years and then being replaced with new shoots. Old or dead shoots should be pruned out to maintain a neat and clean appearance.
The Alexandrian Laurel is famous in Greece for its use in crowning winning athletes during the Greek and Roman times.

* photo taken on May 6 2010 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on Mar 8 2013 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD
* photos taken @ Smithsonian Inst, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

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

* photo taken on Nov 19 2016 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* photo taken on Mar 18 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


Ruscus aculeatus ( Butcher's Broom )
Related and somewhat similar in apppearance. It is a moderate growing, rhizomatous spreading, evergreen shrub, reaching a maximum size of 4.5 x 6 feet, that is native from western Europe to the Caucasus & Iran. Some records include: 8 years - 4.5 feet.
The spine-tipped, phyllode leaves, up to 3.2 x 1.2 inches in size, are bright green.
The yellow male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. If both are present, then the female plants will bear scarlet-red berries up to 0.3 inches wide, ripening early autumm, persisting through winter. Good good berry production Butcher's Broom should be planted in groups of 3 or more of plants not from the same clone.
The stems are green.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 in full sun or full shade on dry, well drained soil. Very drought and pollution tolerant. Propagation is from seed sown in cold frame upon ripening or division during early spring.

* photo taken on Feb 8 2015 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Nov 19 2016 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

'Christmas Berry'
Hermaphrodite, not requiring a pollinator to produce berries.

'John Redmond'
Hermaphrodite, not requiring a pollinator to produce berries.

'Wheelers Variety'
Low growing, reaching up to 2 x 6 ( rarely over 1 ) feet. Self fruiting.

Ruscus hypoglossum
A dense, low growing, clumping shrub reaching a maximum size of 20 inches x 3 feet in size.
The pointed, oval, phyllode leaves, up to 4 x 1.6 inches, are glossy mid-green. The tips are not spines unlike Ruscus aculeatus.
The glossy scarlet-red berries are borne on female plants only.
Hardy zones 7b to 9 in full sun to partial shade on just about any well drained soil. It is very tolerant of dry shady sites. It is endangered in the wild but makes a great landscape plant.
Propagation is from seed or division done during spring.

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