Monday, February 23, 2009

Loropetalum chinense.....from Asia to Walmart in 4 or 5 or 6 easy steps

This paper was part of a large file detailing the progression of the purple-leafed, pink-flowered Loropetalums from their acquisition by John Creech and Sylvester March of the USNA to their entry into the Nursery Industry. The species has white flowers and green leaves; it is semi-evergreen in USDA Zone 7. There are a number of purple-leafed form of Loropetalum chinense with fuchsia flowers.They were selected in Asia over a period of many years. Essentially unknown in this country before 1990, today, less than 20 years later, they are a major component of nursery stock in Zones 7, 8, and 9. If you walk into a Walmart or a Home Depot, or a Lowes near our Florida house there will likely be 20-100 pots of this plant 365 days a year. Nurseries here in the Washinton area (at the northern end of it's range) stock several varieties in season.

This is a flow chart that shows the paths that these plants took from Japan and China to the mainstream of American gardens. You need a scorecard to make sense of all the players: John Creech, a well known plant explorer, was the director of the National Arboretum, Barry Yinger is a renowned Plant Explorer and Nurseryman who has introduced many many plants to the US from Asia. Mike Dirr, the author of the Manual of Woody Plants, is the dean of Woody Plants in the US. Ozzie Johnson, an Atlanta plantsman, and garden designer has traveled the world in search of new plants. Dr. James Waddick, known more for his expertise in Peonies and Iris, than woody plants, is another world class horticulturist.

There is a box missing in the Nihonkaka Nursery-John Creech-US National Arboretum line. The
Arboretum eventually released two cultivars, 'Blush' and 'Burundy'. So our line does end at the Nursery Industry like it's supposed to. Actually, I remember flats of 3" pots with the cuttings sitting on the pipes in the greenhouses in 1993.

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