Eucryphia cordifolia
Eucryphia cordifolia in bloom
Commonly known as the 'Ulmo', Eucryphia cordifolia is an extremely attractive evergreen shrub, although under favourable conditions form a broad columnar tree. Native to both Argentina and Chile, its native habitat stretches along the Andean Mountains, the longest continental mountain range in the world. It was introduced to western science in 1851, and first named and described by leading Spanish taxonomic botanist Antonio Jos̩ Cavanilles (1745 Р1804).

Eucryphia cordifolia
Eucryphia cordifolia botanical illustration
You can expect Eucryphia cordifolia to achieve a maximum height of between 9-12 metres. The leathery, dull-green leaves are oblong, wavy-edged, and often heart-shaped at the base (hence the species name). This species is particularly noted for its white 'Rose of Sharon' blooms which appear in February and March from the leaf axils. The four-petaled flowers are approximately 5 cm wide and have conspicuous rust-coloured stamens. Once pollinated this is followed by a capsule-shaped fruit approximately 1.5 cm in length.

Plant Eucryphia cordifolia in a sunny, sheltered position in a moist, slightly acidic loam. however this species has proven itself to be somewhat lime tolerant. The roots will benefit from being shaded from strong sunlight. Over the winter juvenile specimens will need cold protection such as bracken or horticultural fleece.

Eucryphia cordifolia received the Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1936.

Main image - Franz Xaver CC BY-SA 3.0

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