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Ceratostigma willmottianum Stapf

Modern name

Ceratostigma willmottianum Stapf

A deciduous shrub 2 to 4 ft high; young stems angled, sometimes purplish, furnished with forward-pointing bristles. Leaves alternate, stalkless, lanceolate to diamond shaped; 1 to 2 in. long, 13 to 34 in. wide, bristly on both surfaces. Flowers closely packed in terminal heads, opening successively for three or four months in summer and autumn from the axils of slender lanceolate, pointed bracts which are 13 to 12 in. long, 34 in. wide and edged with stiff bristles; the corolla has a slender, pale tube 34 in. long and five spreading obovate lobes which are bright blue except at the base where they are white; anthers purple; calyx five-lobed, the lobes (or teeth) awl-shaped. Bot. Mag., t. 8591.

Native of W. Szechwan, where Wilson found it in 1908 abundant in the semiarid regions of the Min River valley. Miss Willmott raised two plants from his seed and from these the present stock in this country has mainly or wholly been derived. It is easily increased by late summer cuttings. It produces a long succession of prettily coloured flowers from July onwards. At Kew the semi-woody stems usually die to the ground, but a fresh crop springs up freely every year. In mild gardens, where the season’s wood usually survives the winter, it should be pruned hard early in the spring. An attractive plant which needs a sunny position and grows well on chalky soils.

C. plumbaginoides Bunge Plumbago larpentae Lindl.; Valoradia pltimbaginoides (Bunge) Boiss. – This is the only other species much grown in the open air in this country. Being more herbaceous than shrubby, it scarcely comes within our province. It has brilliant blue flowers of a deeper hue than Miss Willmott’s species and grows 1 to 112 ft high only. The leaves differ in being larger, and obovate rather than lanceolate in outline and bristly at the margins only – the surfaces are glabrous or bear only a few scattered hairs. They often turn red in autumn and then make a striking background to the flowers, but in gardens with a short growing-season this species may prove a disappointment. Native of China; introduced in 1846 to Sir Geo. Larpent’s garden at Roehampton. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 210.



Other species in the genus