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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, October 24, 2012

Clerodendrum Trichotomum

I read on a plant tag at Cistus Nursery that in Portland, Oregon, Clerodendrum trichotomum is liberally used as a street tree in a certain part of town.  Lucky Portlanders!  The leaves of this shrub which will form a thicket or can be trained as a tree smell like peanut butter when bruised and it's late summer flowers smell like jasmine and are a humming bird magnet.
 
I planted this C. trichotomum, also known as Harlequin Glorybower, many years ago thinking that it would be a small shrub.  It decided to be a couple of small trees but then, toward the end of one summer, they decided to suddenly wilt, loose their leaves, and die.  From their roots grew many more stems and soon there was a large group of them.  Every now and then, some branches go through the sudden death thing for which I've still not ascertained a cause.  The roots must like my garden as I find suckers of this coming up in several nearby beds - they pull pretty easily but are quickly replaced.  Do be careful of where you plant this beauty.
This variegated form called 'Carnival' came from Cistus and is planted in the very poor soil of my hell strip where it gets very little water.  It has grown beautifully but hasn't put out a single sucker.


 The blooms are followed by cool metallic turquoise to blue seeds surrounded by the red calyxes. 


 There is a great picture of a C.tricotomum grown as a tree so covered with these that the tree appears to be nearly red here.

 If you're looking for a fun tree with three season interest, or a thicket to cover the back 40, Clerodendrum trichotomum might just fit the bill!

47 comments:

  1. I adore Clerodendron...although I never really notice them until they bloom...once they do, my head is constantly whipping around, trying to find the source of that delicious scent...and the seed pods are out-of-this-world amazing! I had someone actually bring one of the seedpods into work last fall, wanting to know what it was...how often does a plant intrigue people enough to do that?!?

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    1. It's interesting and everyone with acreage should have some. In my small garden, I'll be reducing mine to a single specemin - want some?

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  2. OMG, this is a gorgeous shrub, and all I have to go by is your pictures. I've never seen or smelled one in real life, but now I want to! These pictures of the red and blue seedpods are wonderful! The variegated leaf is gorgeous too.

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    1. It's sort of like a furry lilac; beautiful and fragrant when it blooms but for the rest of the year it's either sticks or a blob of green. Clerodendrum does have the cool berries, though, and the interestingly scented foliage.

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    2. I'll start some suckers in pots instead of pulling them up if you'd like some.

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  3. Great looking plant & the smell sounds wonderful. Love the colours & shape of the seeds & calyxes, & very pretty flowers too.

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    1. Glad you like it. Maybe you'll grow one?

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  4. Beautiful!!!! I'll have to keep an eye out for one.

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    1. If it weren't for that messy crossing the border thing, I'd be happy to give you some suckers of mine!

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  5. I absolutely adore these! I never thought they were hardy here in New England but then late this summer I came across a whole hill side covered in them and blooming lavishly at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Since then I have seen the occasional specimen in gardens here and there but I really wonder why they are not more widely planted - or, for that matter, available at nurseries.

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    1. I think that many nurseries are reluctant to carry them because they don't seem to bloom or set seed while they're still in small pots & that's the thing that would entice buyers. Specialty nurseries & plant sales usually have them though.

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  6. If I plan my afternoon dog walk just right I get to walk by two of these...when they are in full bloom that lovely scent can stay with me for blocks. One of them has a million babies in the parking strip and I've often considered asking if I could dig one up. But where would I put it? Better to enjoy it in others gardens.

    (love that you linked to Treephoria, Nancy and Neil are good people with amazing trees, Nancy also makes a mean pot of soup!)

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    1. Nice to hear the Nancy and Neil are good people because I've relly enjoyed poking around Treephoria.com! If you want a Clerodendrum tricotomum or C. bungei, I've got lots of suckers that you are more than welcome to have!

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  7. A beautiful plant which I haven't seen earlier. That fragrance sounds great!

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  8. It is lovely but may not be hardy in Finland.

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  9. I have had similar experience with the dying back and resprouting thing. Sadly, mine has never produced more than a sparse scattering of the steely blue berries (their entire reason for being, in my estimation). It does flower, though sparingly, so I do get to enjoy the heavenly fragrance.

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    1. It sort of goes in cycles with the heavy bloom/heavy berry years and those of less abundance.

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  10. The flowers are nice but the seeds and calyx are a knockout! If it smells like peanut butter when bruised, the obvious question is - is there a companion plant that smells like jelly?

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    1. Hmmm...grapes? Raspberries? Depends on what kind of jelly you like.

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  11. What a gorgeous tree/shrub! I've heard of these before but have never seen such cool pictures and I've never seen them here. :( Sadness... But lucky you for living in an area with so many!!

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    1. It's supposed to be hardy to zone 7. You're just outside the nation's capital; are you zone 7?

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  12. That variegated form is to die for. You are makikng me weep with envy. I can't grow them here

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    1. Sorry! On the bright side, you can grow tomatoes, melons, and anything requiring heat much better than we can out here.

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  13. A BRAND NEW site for Garden Blogs
    http://www.bloomingblogs.com

    Please join up! - You will be one of the first.

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  14. How timely your post is! I was just admiring one of those yesterday (yes, on a Portland street) and wondering what it was. Those flowers are amazing!

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    1. Yea! It's a great tree/shrub. I should spend more time in Portland; it's much more interesting than where I live.

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  15. I have two they are both small trees with single trunk, I live in Eugene, Oregon, there are many here....one has just experienced sudden wilt, at first I thought it was drought, we have had a hot dry summer but the lower branches are fine, I just hope it comes back in the spring :(

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    1. Although mine has experienced the sudden wilt/partial death in the past, it didn't last summer but when it does, there are plenty of suckers to take the place of the dead parts.

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  16. I lived in Portland in the early 80's and had a backyard full of these amazing trees. I now live in Olympia and would love to have them in my garden once again. Do you know where I might find some? A nursery in Portland perhaps?

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    1. Cistus nursery on Sauve Island, just outside of Portland, is where I got the variegated leaf variety. You might call around as I see the non variegated form from time to time in nurseries here. You've got Fairy Gardens and Bark and Garden in Olympia who may have it. Some Tacoma area nurseries might have it as well. Plant Lust http://plantlust.com/plants/clerodendrum-trichotomum/ lists it as available at 11 nurseries. The variegated form 'Carnival' is listed as available at Cistus and Xera (Portland) nurseries. http://plantlust.com/plants/clerodendrum-trichotomum-carnival/ Cistus and Far Reaches do mail order as well although they're both very much worth a visit in person!

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  17. I am in Portland, Or. My clerodendron tree is about 10 years old and just now is wilting. It's pretty tall, and I trim it each Feb. I watered it a lot the other day in case it was thirsty, but it's still wilting. Any ideas?
    Thanks

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    1. This is very frustrating! I was thinking that it might be verticillium wilt or over/under watering but don't think so. This plant seems to suffer something akin to the clematis sudden wilt/death thing. I had the same thing happen to several large branches of mine when it was about the same age as yours and for several years following. What I've done when it happens is cut the affected areas off as soon as I was sure that they were truly dead. This causes a thicket of clerodendrons to grow which are easily removed except for the one(s) you want to keep. Sorry, I don't know how to save your tree! The good news is that the wilt thing didn't happen again last summer and I'm holding out hope for this year as well.

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  18. I have one in my garden in England wilting in just the same way. The growing tips however look OK. Was hoping someone would know what to do but it looks as though I'll just have to hope for the best. Interestingly, it flowers well every year but never produces fruit.

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    1. Curious that it doesn't produce fruit. Sorry about the wilt, it's one of the drawbacks of this beautiful plant!

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  19. Do the deer eat Clerodendrum Harlequin Glory Bower?

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  20. I'm in zone 7b, NC. I received one as a sucker from a fellow gardener.It flourished well and bloomed prolifically for a few years, and smelled heavenly! Unfortunately, it began to decline. Last winter, it formed a crack up the trunk, probably from the sun hitting it. Most of it died this spring, so I trimmed off the dead branches. To my GREAT delight, it leafed out on what remained. It never suckered, maybe because I planted it too deep? I was hoping it would, because this might be my last year I have it and I wanted another one. I'm interested in the C. C. bungei too, if I can find it. I'd be thrilled to find suckers of it and C. Bungei. I just love this beautiful shrub/tree!

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  21. Will these plants grow from cuttings? I have a friend that has a huge tree and would like to grow them in my yard.

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    1. Easily grown from dug up suckers.

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  22. For those experiencing wilt - mine has a leaf curl starting mid/late summer and the buds for the flowers never really bloom or become fragrant - this has happened the past 2 years -

    Has anyone tried to spray for fungus?? My tree is about 10 years old.

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  23. My Clerodendrum trichotomum is also 10 yrs old. It stopped blooming about 3 yrs ago, perhaps the unseasonably dry weather. Last fall after several heavy rains, it bloomed but never as much as it's early years. I'm going to try Triple Superphosphate. It has never had wilt, always produced robust foliage. It's planted on a hillside for erosion control. So many suckers have covered that hill. So, I would say it loves a hillside, some sun and rain - at least in one 7a. Now I just have to get it to bloom again. We've had lots of rain this Spring 2016. I live in Winston Salem NC, zone 7a. My Mother-in-law in KY zone 6 planted one on her hillside with no competing shrubs or trees, full sun. It bloomed once but continues to produce only foliage. Hopefully the 0-45-0 will work for both of us in two different zones. It's a subtropical, right? Maybe we've overextended ourselves.

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  24. I have had a clerodendrom for ten years
    Planted it 3-4 feet from the house
    It does produce lots of suckers
    It also needs to be pruned due to branches too close to roof
    One tree expert said it had to be removed due to closeness and its roots spreading
    An arborist said it just needs pruning and that it's doing beautiful
    What do you suggest?

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    1. I'm on expert and would have to see the situation. Probably best to err on the side of caution although I never do.

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  25. I just discovered this plant/tree/shrub this year by the smell of my neighbors. I had to take a branch into a local nursery in Woodinville to find out what it was. When is the best time to pluck a few suckers out of the ground and plant them? I live in Edmonds, WA.

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    1. I'm guessing that early spring would be great, after the leaves fall in autumn miht work as well. If you've got a lot of suckers to play with, you could try anytime as we live in a fairly mild area.

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  26. Does anyone that have these tree have dogs? I've read the berries are poinsonous and we are getting a puppy soon. Is it true it's dangerous to ingest?

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    1. Hi Amy, I have dogs but have never seen berries on the ground. Either they fall in the flower bed beneath the tree and are hidden by the plants or birds eat them before they fall.

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  27. I live in NC and a friend gave me one now I have lots haha but really just found out what it is. Does anyone know if it attracts butterflies?

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