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Chimonanthus nitens

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JC Raulston Arboretum. November 2003. This species is quite a different beast than the familiar C. praecox. It is evergreen for one thing and something like a narrow-leaved Leucothoe for effect. This species
is decidedly more vigorous than Leucothoe and has the tendency to produce ratty, vigorous "overshoots" as does the oft rabid Elaeagnus pungens. Mature height is 8-12 feet plus or minus the wild bits. It has the potential for being dense and civilized but has a rampant, ragged nature that will benefit well from the work of sharp, shiny blades. An improved, compact clonal selection would perhaps be a better thing yet.

click image to enlarge
The flowers arrive in early November in the southeastern US, perhaps 6-8 weeks before the first C. praecox. This was shot at the Raulston Arboretum 11/8/03 on a day of 55 degrees or so but having been 70-82 some days before. There is a strange, translucent, mostly white quality to flowers. If I were permitted to vernacularly name this plant I might call it the GHOST WINTERSWEET.

This species is most attractive to people who like rare plants but also insist they be interesting and strange. Born close to the axils of the glossy, regularly opposite foliage, the blooms are not visible from much distance and one could walk 6 feet away and not notice them - except for those of us lurking with cameras ready for anything different and/or a keen horticultural thirst for knowledge.

While Dr. Raulston did distribute it to southern plant gurus and nurseryman in North Carolina, it remains very rare. The 65,000 taxa 2003-2004 RHS PLANT FINDER has no sources for it, and considering those shrub-addicted, oddity-craving Brits who grow most everything shrubby, this species has to get 4 stars of 5 on the Rare Taxa Meter.

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A closer shot yet of the same plant above. The red petioles are rather appealing at this close angle. The pale, mysterious nature of the flowers is more apparent in this shot. They have a look like many active (even if slightly punk) ballerinas. LCH.

 

Chimonanthus praecox

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Chimonanthus praecox in the basic species form on 21 December 2002 in Raleigh, North Carolina just in time for Christmas.

 

Chimonanthus praecox 'Concolor' ('Luteus', var. concolor, 'Mangetsu'?)

fc: light yellow in outer and inner petals and sepals, not marked purple.
fd: 2.6cm wide (about species typical). Inner petals 7mm long.
ff: highly scented
sepals: spreading, slightly inflexed, oblong, 20mm long x 7mm wide
bt: Hillier states 'Luteus' starts a bit later for them.
ns: 'Luteus' and 'Mangetsu' are sometimes considered similar clones but by most accounts there is no
ns: very clear difference. It is also possible than the Japanese 'Luteo-grandiflorus' is also related to 'Mangetsu'.
ns: it is possible a study and measurement of the sepals and petals would solve this. The 2003-4 RHS PLANT FINDER
ns: recognized a var. luteus with many sources.
aw: RHS 1948, FCC 1970 to 'Luteus'

Chimonanthus praecox 'Fragrance'

ff: presumed to be well-scented
in: Reads Nursery UK c. 2002

Chimonanthus praecox 'Grandiflorus'

ht: taller than species typical
fc: light yellow, highly striped and even margined on inner petals. Dirr says "purer yellow"(?). Hillier has called
fc: yellow with a "red center" - this is the effect at one distance.
fd: 2.3cm wide - not very grandiflorus in fact unless measured against 'Parviflorus'. Inner petals 12mm long
sepals: narrowly oblanceolate-oblong, 2cm long
ff: somewhat fragrant but not as fragrant as possible for cultivars (notably 'Concolor'). This is a major flaw.
ll: slightly larger than species typical.
aw: RHS AM 1928

Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteo-grandiflorus'

fc: all waxy yellow, not purplish as 'Grandiflorus' which which it might be confused on the basis of names.
fd: 3.0cm wide - larger than species typical
sepals: ovate, wider than some cultivars
or: Japan
in: known in the West since before 1957

Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteus' = 'Concolor'

 

Chimonanthus praecox 'Mangetsu' = 'Concolor'?

 

Chimonanthus praecox 'Parviflorus'

fc: very pale yellow to near white, spotted and margined purple. Inner sepals striped red.
fd: 1.0cm wide - about a third of what other cultivars reach. Inner petals 4mm long.
sepals: outer seapsl erect, oblong, 12mm long x3mm wide, rolled inward.

Chimonanthus praecox 'Patens'

fc: yellowish-white, paler than species, striped and margined purple on the inner petals.
fd: 2.4cm wide
sepals: outer sepals nearly erect, oblanceolate, 18mm long.

Chimonanthus praecox 'Spring Valley' (12/02)

ht: 8-10 ft.
id: traits separating it from the species are not yet reported
li: We-Du Nurseries, Marion NC, Catalog 2000: 22, listed apart from species. (This nursery was co-founded by
li: Dr. Richard Weaver, former of the Arnold Arboretum)

Chimonanthus praecox 'Trenython'

ns:a listed name for Endsleigh Gardens UK c. 2002.

Chimonanthus praecox [yellowish-white splashed]

lc: irregularly splashed and sectored creamy white
li: Yokoi, M. and Y. Hirose. 1978. Variegated plants. Seibundo Shinkosha Press. (a lovely color photo included)