Leucothoe

Family: Ericaceae

Comprising around 50 species of deciduous or evergreen shrubs, this small genus has a broad distribution, from eastern Asia to Madagascar, to North and South America. The simple leaves are glossy green in colour, the flowers vary from white to pink, and the fruit is a many-seeded capsule. With handsome foliage and prettily shaped flowers, they look lovely growing under tall trees. Some species have a suckering habit.

Species

L. davisiae, Sierra laurel, grows natu­rally in mountainous regions of central California. It is an evergreen with quite long flower sprays in early summer.

L. fontanesiana, switch ivy, is an evergreen, spreading shrub from North America, to about 2 m (6 ft) high, with longish leaves and sprays of white flowers in spring.

L. grayana, from japan, is a deciduous species to about 1 m (3 ft) high, with onesided flower clusters during summer and early autumn.

L. racemosa, sweet bells, is a decidu­ous shrub with variable leaves and one-sided terminal sprays, from spring to late summer, usually growing to height and width of about 1.5 m (5 ft).

Cultivation

Any average soil that is moist and free of lime will do, but these shrubs do best in shade, with shelter from strong wind. Propagate from seed in spring in a garden frame, or from semi-ripe cuttings in summer, with basal warmth.

Climate

Zone 5 for most species. Zone 6 for L. grayana.

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Climate zone map
Leucospermum      Lewisia