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Atraphaxis billardieri Spach

Modern name

Atraphaxis billardieri Jaub. & Spach

A deciduous, sometimes spiny shrub 1 to 212 ft high of semi-prostrate growth; young shoots glabrous, pale grey. Leaves narrowly oval to lanceolate, entire, finely pointed, tapered towards the base; 18 to 13 in. long, 112 to 316 in. wide; green and quite glabrous, but distinctly net-veined; there is a distinct swollen joint on the very short stalk. Flowers produced in a rounded cluster about 1 in. wide during June at the end of short leafy twigs. Each flower is ultimately 14 in. wide and is made up of five segments (or sepals), the two outer ones small and reflexed, the three inner ones roundish ovate or heart-shaped, ultimately 14 in. long, rosy pink, erect, and hiding the stamens and ovary. Flower-stalk 18 to 14 in. long, glabrous, slender, jointed midway. Fruit three-angled. Bot. Mag., t. 8820.

Native of Greece, Asia Minor, and Syria; discovered by the French botanist Labillardiere on the Lebanon Range about 1787. This very charming shrub has grown well in the rock garden at Kew and, as the sepals do not fall away but remain enclosing the fruit and retaining their glowing pink colour, it has a long season of beauty. It is essentially a sun-loving shrub and, growing naturally in regions with a hot dry summer, likes a well-drained soil. It is sometimes thorny like A. spinosa, but that species has only two of the large inner sepals and a two-edged fruit.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This species is rare in Greece, where it occurs only in the central part of the mainland and in eastern Crete.



Other species in the genus