Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pheasant Berry

Leycesteria formosa

Also called Himalayan Honeysuckle; it is part of the Caprifoliaceae family which also includes the Weigelas & Dipeltas. A fast growing, thicket forming, upright to arching, deciduous shrub, reaching an average of 6 x 8 feet, that is native from the Himalayas to western China. Some records include: largest on record - 15 x 13 feet; fastest recorded growth rate - 5 feet. It has invasive potential in some climates.
In zone 6, it typically acts more like a perennial, dying back to the ground each winter and regenerating in spring.
The wavy-margined, somewhat heart-shaped leaves are up to 8 x 4 inches. The foliage is deep green above, downy blue-white beneath.
The stems bear hanging flower spikes, up to 4 inches in length, from the upper leaf axils. The flowers themselves are white, up to 0.8 x 0.7 inches, with red-purple bracts, borne early summer to early autumn. The flowers are borne on new wood, so that plants cut back hard during early spring will still bloom during the same season.
They are followed by dark reddish-purple to black berries, up to 0.3 inches across. The fruits are great for attracting birds. The fruit can also be a nuisance in some areas due to self seeding.
The many, erect, Bamboo-like, hollow shoots are blue-green during the first season.
Each individual stem lasts only 2 to 5 years but are vigorously replaced.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 ( possibly 5 as perennial ) in full sun to partial shade on just about any fertile, well drained soil. Tolerant of salt and seashore conditions. Should not be planted in Australia or New Zealand. Prune during early spring, removing all flowered shoots from the previous season.
Propagation is from softwood cuttings taken during summer and seed sown during autumn and spring. Propagation can also be achieved by division during autumn.

* photos taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* historical archive photo

'Golden Lanterns'
Similar except for having attractive golden-yellow foliage.

* photos taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

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

Similar Species

Leycesteria crocothyrosos
A fast growing, erect to arching shrub, reaching a maximum size of 8 x 7 feet that is native to Assam Province in northeast India and northern Burma. Some records include: 2 years - 8 feet. It is critically endangered and is likely now extinct in the wild. Thankfully it is now found in cultivation and thrives especially well in much of central and southern British Isles.
The taper-pointed, oval leaves, up to 7 x 2.7 inches, are green above, slightly hairy beneath.
The yellow flowers are borne on whorles on terminal clusters, up to 7 inches in length, during late spring and summer. Small yellow-green berries follow.
Hardy zones 7 to 11 in full sun. Requires reliable moisture and a warm site protected from wind.

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