Monday, April 10, 2017

Alabama croton - a marvelous, rare shrub

The Encyclopedia of Alabama calls Alabama croton (Croton alabamensis) one of the rarest shrubs in North America.

So I felt pretty lucky to see it in person on a recent trip to the Huntsville Botanical Garden:

One of the things I had heard about Alabama croton was that the autumn foliage took on shades of electric orange. As you can see, the plant seemed to be fully leafed out in its new spring foliage, but I was able to find a lingering orange leaf, and it still looked fantastic on April 1st. I think the green foliage is pretty awesome too!

I realize that this photo would be more useful if it had a person in the picture for scale. Sorry about that. Please take my word for it - this plant (or clump of plants?) was about 7 feet tall at its highest point by perhaps 12 feet wide. As you can see, the foliage is pretty dense. I'm glad I saw this shrub in person, because the photos I'd seen online made it look as though the foliage was very sparse, but here I'd say the foliage is dense enough to offer good screening potential. 

All in all, I was sufficiently impressed that I'm going to try adding an Alabama croton to my garden this autumn. (I try to plant most shrubs and trees in autumn.)

I've seen photos online (from NCSU) of the plant apparently thriving in Knoxville and Brooklyn, so I believe it should be able to take a Nashville winter without any problems.

PS - Deb at Deb's Garden really likes this plant too!


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