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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pernettya mucronata, My Favorite Plant in the Garden this Week

I love this plant so much that although my garden already has this beautiful specimen, I bought another last time I visited Vassey Nursery!    What's not to love.  The tiny rich green leaves are never alone on the plant as they are always joined by flowers and/or berries.  The spring floral show is very nice and often the berries from last year cling to the plant through the bloom cycle and into the new fruit production.  
 

I first read about this plant in Dan Hinkley's book Winter Ornamentals  in which he writes the following:  "A genus of evergreen shrubs knows as Pernettya is found natively in south America, New Zeland, and Tasmania, although many species thrive in the maritime Northwest...P. mucronata, with small, dark green, needlelike leaves densely covering upright stems of cherry red.  In late spring, bright white flowers are pervasively tucked among the foliage, yet it is not unti9l late autumn that the resultant succulent fruit ripens to shades of red, pink, or white.  This low- to medium-sized species easily gains in stature to 5 feet.  Remove vigorous upright stems to easily control it as a medium-high ground-covering shrub that remains in fruit throughout the autumn and into winter."   My original plant seems to be content staying at about 3 feet all by itself. 
 The taxonomists are at it again and Gaultheria mucronata is synonymous with Pernettya mucronata although Gaultheria is a large family of which Pernettya is a member.  Then there's  Gaultheria  x wisleyensis 'Wisley Pearl' that is lovely and sometimes confused with Pernettya in the trade. Often, at this time of year, we see Gaultheria procumbens, (creeping wintergreen) another member of the tribe used in mixed pots. But I digress and Mr. Hinkley is far more interesting.
 "All Pernettya species benefit from full-sun situations and acidic soils.  Once established, they do not require summer water.  Because individual plants may be either male or female or may have flowers of both sexes, you may not need to have more than one plant to have fruit.  However, chances for a larger crop of colorful berries are enhanced if you plant both sexes."
Ideal companions are other acid-loving plants, such as Erica (heaths) and Calluna (heathers), Gaultheria, and Rhododendron.  Pernettya fruit is edible, though it imparts more of a colorful and refreshing squeeze of moisture than real taste."

For more great information about this plant, visit Paghat's Garden here and for the fun an informative and funny article "Are Pernettya Berries Edible or Poisonous" go here.

I'm joining other garden bloggers in the My Favorite Plant This Week meme hosted by Loree at Danger Garden.



19 comments:

  1. Full sun and no summer water -- Sounds like a perfect candidate for my front garden, not that I need any more plants to go in there. I do like those pink berries.

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    1. You can never have too many plants my friend!

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    2. dear out law last comment you had was in2013,
      this plant can make a nice BONSAI

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  2. It's a cutie! And thanks for the reminder I need to check out that book.

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    1. It's a nice book and I bet you already know all of the plants in it!

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  3. How is it that a non-pink person (that would be me) finds this plant so appealing?
    You remind me that Dan Hinkley's writing style is endlessly entertaining as well as informative. I still have some of the Herenswood catalogs in my library for that reason alone.

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    1. They're really more of a reddish lavender than pink in person so you'd be o.k. Plus color all winter. I also have some of the old Heronswood catalogs for the same reason. I remember looking forward to the arrival of each year's offering.

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  4. Pink berries in the winter, nice and makes for a change on the usual orange and red winter berries.

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    1. And they're still going strong in spring when the berries blend beautifully with all of the pastel colors of the season.

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  5. I have the white-berried ones, which is not as abundantly fruitful as your beautiful plant. Mine were looking scraggly so I finally chopped them back some to get them to fill in more. I love any evergreens with glossy green leaves. It is in front of my wild Huckleberry also in this category.

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    1. I'm also a fan of glossy green leaved evergreens. I haven't seen the white berried variety for sale but I bet it's lovely!

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  6. For reasons I can't say, I thought Pernettya preferred shade. This is good to know. I saw a nice looking 2 gallon dark pink berried specimen recently. I don't know though, your bright pink berried ones look mighty fine. I can see why they're your favorite plant of the week. Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving.

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    1. Oh Grace you should go back and buy it! This is my advice to everyone about every plant so take it with a grain of salt. Hope your Thanksgiving is also wonderful! I'm cooking for 28 family members from three states. Yikes!

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  7. I've eaten my berries in the past and I am still here to yell about it... That was before someone told me it was poisonous. I bought mine from Heronswood, who knows when, and Hinkley's listing said you could eat them, or was it his book? Too tired to look it up, anyway, I thought they were a bit mealy. But the plant is lovely, especially when it is in flower and has the beautiful berries too.

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    1. I don't remember the berries tasting as good as they looked so they just stay on the bush.

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  8. I wondered why I hadn't heard of this plant, especially as it is an Australian native, and then I saw the dreaded words: "acid-loving". This translates as "Lyn's-garden-hating" Oh well.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.