Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stemmadinia littoralis: An ideal tree for a small, tropical garden

"Lechoso" is a small tree, native to Central America, that's gaining well-deserved popularity; Fairchild Garden made it the 2009 Tree of the Year. It has an open habit and produces delightfully perfumed white flowers throughout the warmer months. Ideally, it should be planted near open windows, outside seating, or somewhere you can benefit from the scent.

I planted mine a few years ago and it's about 12' tall, now. The literature says it will reach about 20'. It's shaded from the strong afternoon sun by an oak. Apparently, it's happier with the shade, but other than that, it doesn't require any maintenance, being quite happy to do its own thing.

Another benefit is that it didn't seem to suffer much from the freeze, despite getting the full force of the northwesterly wind. It dropped some leaves, but it's blooming again now. That makes me think it might work in Zone 9 in a sheltered spot.


Susan said...

That's a very pretty small tree. It kind of reminds me of an angel trumpet...nice sized-leaves.

Floridagirl said...

Ooh, that is a wonderful tree! Is this also called the "Milky Way Tree"? I would love to grow it here in Zone 9, if I hadn't already determined not to grow any more Zone 10 plants than what I already have.

James Missier said...

I bet I have seen this so many times in my neighbourhood area where this tree is planted for their white flowers but never come across any of them having any fragrance.
I guess its known as pinwheel jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata)
It look exactly like the same as this one.

Penny McCrea said...

@Susan. Do you mean Brugmansia? This flower is a bit smaller, and it doesn't hang down.

@FG: Yes, it is also known as the Milky Way tree.

@James: I've grown Tabernaemontana and the flowers are similar, but that's a shrub and this is tree.

I hope you all get to grow one!

Ami said...

This is a very beautiful tree! I am looking for a small size tree/bush that can replace my boring hedge in the full sun area. Unfortunately this one needs some shade, otherwise will be a good candidate.

NanaK said...

That is a really pretty tree and fragrant just makes it even better.

Penny McCrea said...

@Ami. I don't think it would be good for a hedge, but try one anyway. :)

@Nana: I reckon you could grow one in the Tampa Bay area. Are you Zone 9?