Upright evergreen gives both blooms and berries

Upright evergreen gives both blooms and berries

It’s not often that a bush has both berries and blooms on it at the same time. A recent forage into a local garden center has reminded of the Durnata erecta. This sprawling tender evergreen plant can put on quite a show if you treat it right. You may know this showy beauty by some of its nicknames like Pigeon Berry, Golden Dewdrop or Skyflower.

According to Floridata, Duranta is native to scrub and open woodlands in the West Indies and Central and South America. This heat lover can be found growing wild in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean. It is found in certain areas in southern Florida and south Texas. Its botanical name is Duranta erecta and is part of the family of Verbenaceae. The genus Duranta is named after the 15th century Italian botanist Castore Durantes. “Erecta” means “upright” in Latin.

Plan on planting your Golden Dewdrop in a location where you would like a fast growing shrub that will grow 5-10 feet tall and just as wide. It usually grows into a sprawling shrub with branches drooping with berries. The foliage is semi-deciduous with shiny green leaves. As if the berries weren’t enough, clusters of flowers will grow on the ends of its graceful branches. To make it more enticing to the bees and butterflies, the flowers have a slight vanilla aroma.

Although an easygoing plant, your Duranta would love you even more if you put her in full to semi-shade. She needs a regular shower of water and well-drained, moderately fertile soil. If you love her enough to share, you can propagate easily with a clip of a woody section placed in fertile soil and by “layering.”

Consider using this wild beauty where you want songbirds. It is great as a fragrant hedge if you want to keep it clipped. It’s excellent in a container and can be trained as a topiary or espaliered onto a wall. Or you can choose an area where it can sprawl and cover itself in bright golden berries and dripping chains of purple blooms. Lovely.

Joette is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.