Stachyurus a string of goldpearls.

Have you ever seen a winter bush dropping gold?

Stachyurus præcox in flowers

Now you have seen it.

These genus of small bushes have three commercial species. They start to have flowers like gold pearls on a string in the late winter followed by colourful young leaves. Unless to have a cultivar with variegated foliage the bush is not interesting in the summer but when the autumn comes the leaves change colour to become yellow orange, purple or red.

The earliest is S. præcox ( that means early in Latin) and is native to Japan. A cultivar “Magpie” have a nice variegated foliage and has a year long interest.

The second best-known species is S. chinensis. More cultivars can be found in the plant nurseries. The “Celina” and especially the “Joy Forever” for its lightgreen/yellow foliage and its sumptuous autumn colours.

The last species I will talk about here is the Stachyurus salicifolius. Contrary to the two first Stachyurus described above, the S. salicifolius is a persistant bush with willow-like leaves (Salici means willow and folius leaves). It has its white cream flowers on the red young stems. The plant is perfect in a North or East facing orientation or a shadowy place. As it’s a small bush ( 2m tall) it will appreciate to be under deciduous trees in a wood land garden.

The Stachyurus are best in sheltered area in neutral to acidic soil among heather and pieris and can be a good alternative to rhododendron.

Words and Photographs : Maxime Carton

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