Connoisseur Plants

Connoisseur Plants are rare, new plants, or hard-to-find old favorites. These wonderful plants are being offered to our upper level members, Collector (formerly Sponsor) level and higher.

Please note that several plants are available in very limited quantities. For some plants, we don't know the full range of hardiness, only how it has behaved at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Sometimes, we cannot find any information in our references on a particular taxon. This does not mean that the plant doesn't exist, perhaps just that we are staying one step ahead of published information. One of the purposes of the Arboretum is to test new plants for suitability to the southeastern United States. By growing some of these "new-to-us" plants in your own garden, you can be a part of this evaluation process. Feedback from you is invaluable!

Happy choosing, and thank you for your continued and invaluable support of the JC Raulston Arboretum.

To submit your selections, please use the form link in the e-mail you received on February 21, 2024 from Kathryn Wall. If you need assistance, please e-mail Kathryn at or call (919) 513-7004 Selections should be placed no later than end of day March 3, 2024.

Note: The distribution year listed below is the year the plants were awarded. Members request them early the following year. And they're picked up or delivered shortly thereafter.

1993 Plant Selection

Abies firma
Momi fir

The most heat-tolerant of all firs with ability to grow into Florida. Native to Japan and can reach 80' with great age. Slow growing when young but will grow 2'–3' per year when established. USDA Zones 5–9 and best in sun.

  • tree to 80'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Abies firma

Abies firma
Momi fir

The most heat-tolerant of all firs with ability to grow into Florida. Native to Japan and can reach 80' with great age. Slow growing when young but will grow 2'–3' per year when established. USDA Zones 5–9 and best in sun.

  • tree to 80'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Abies firma

Acer skutchii
Mexican mountain sugar maple

New species from Mexico represents the Mexican form of sugar maple. It was recently introduced by Yucca Do Nursery in Texas and hardiness still is unknown, but likely USDA Zones 7–9. Our young plants are attractive and vigorous growing. Good yellow fall color.

  • shade tree to 35'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Acer skutchii

Alstroemeria psittacina 'Variegata'
variegated parrot lily

A rare and very beautiful white-variegated foliage form of this herbaceous perennial grown as a commercial cut-flower and as a garden perennial in milder climates. Hardiness unknown but we grow several other forms here and worthy of trial or use on a sunporch.

Asarum splendens
Chinese wild ginger

This beautiful evergreen ground cover makes a great addition to any woodland garden with its large, dark green mottled leaves. Chinese wild-ginger is rhizomatous in nature, and a vigorous grower. It was introduced from China by the Arnold Arboretum in the early 1990s. Can reach 1' in height with silver mottled green foliage. Propagated slowly by division of clumps. USDA Zones 7–9. Best in light shade, particularly in winter.

  • to 10"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy

Bignonia capreolata 'Tangerine Beauty'

Cultivar of a North American native, strong, woody, evergreen climber. Flowers are a bright deep-orange. Covers a trellis at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

  • evergreen vine to 20'–30'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • tangerine-red flowers in spring

Carpinus Collection
hornbeam collection

Tough, easy and beautiful deciduous trees with outstanding trunk character and yellow foliage in fall. Grown from seed. You will receive the 2 species below—both species offered are hardy in USDA Zones 4–8. Sun or light shade. This collection includes Carpinus betulus: European hornbeam native to that continent and long used for hedging screens in England and Carpinus japonica: Japanese hornbeam with very handsome foliage.

  • hardy

Cedrus deodara 'Compacta'
compact Deodar cedar

Compact cultivar of Deodar cedar. Zone 7. Sun. The one in the Arboretum is about 12' with a 3' spread. Native to th Himalayas.

  • hardy

bush lily

A tender houseplant "bulb" with evergreen straplike dark green foliage and orange flowers which are produced throughout the year. Obtained many years ago in California; and the true species identity is unknown except it is not the C. minata commonly seen in the trade.

  • Evergreen perennial to 18"x18"
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • tender
  • orange flowers

Cornus officinalis 'Spring Glow'
cornelian cherry

Large shrub or small deciduous tree. Bright yellow flowers in spring. Dark glossy leaves and gray-brown exfoliating bark. A plant selected at the JC Raulston Arboretum for its outstanding heat tolerance, compared to other cultivars.

  • to 15'–25'
  • plant in sun to partial shade
  • hardy

Cryptomeria japonica Collection
Japanese cedar Collection

The NCSU Arboretum has perhaps the largest cultivar collection in the U.S. of this plant which is so valuable in the southeastern landscape—with many widely varied forms. Those chosing this selection will receive 3 uncommon and varied cultivars for trial. USDA Zones 6–9; sun or light shade.

  • hardy

Danae racemosa
poet's laurel

One of the finest of broadleaved evergreen shrubs with arching branches to 3' in height and 4' wide with great age. Beautiful red winter fruit. Rarely seen commercially due to propagation issues and slow growth (6 years to a quart from seed!) but highly desirable. USDA Zones 7–9; best in shade. 3 year old seedlings.

  • evergreen shrub to 3'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • orange-red fruit in late summer to winter
  • deer resistant
  • Long lasting cut branches

Euscaphis japonica
sweetheart tree

A deciduous tree from Korea to 30' with dark green, thick, leathery compound foliage in summer, spectacular panicles of red-fleshed fruit with contrasting exposed black seed from August to October, and "snake-bark" in winter with white striping on deep purple stems! USDA Zones 6B–9. Best in sun.

  • deciduous flowering tree to 30'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy zone 6–9
  • white flowers in summer
  • red fruit in fall

Fokienia hodginsii
Hodgins' cypress

A very rare conifer tree discovered in China in 1908 and introduced to cultivation in 1911—but still rare in the U.S. Unusual flattened foliage (somewhat like Thujopsis). Complete adaptability unknown but we have had a plant outdoors for 4 years which has reached 6' in height. USDA Zones 7–9?; best in light shade?

  • hardy

Gardenia jasminoides 'Kleim's Hardy'
Cape jasmine

"Zone 7,fragrant white flowers,sun/light shade"

  • to 4'–5'
  • plant in sun to partial shade
  • hardy

Gordonia lasianthus 'Variegata'
variegated loblolly bay

A rare white-variegated foliage selection of this native southeastern U. S.broadleaved evergreen shrub/tree with white flowers in July–September. Needs good drainage and moisture for best performance and will perish in tight clays. USDA Zones 7–9. Useful in sun or light shade.

  • to 30'–50'
  • plant in sun to part shade

Grab Bag of Treasures Collection

For this listing we feel we need a certain quantity of a plant to offer to donors in order to have a reasonable chance of obtaining it if requested. We constantly have small quantities of diverse rare plants from new propagations. For this selection—you will receive 3 assorted rare new plants of our choice from our nurseries.

Halesia tetraptera var. monticola 'Variegata'
variegated mountain silverbell

A white-variegated foliage form of this beautiful native tree which produces white flowers in early spring. Originally selected by Mike Bracken in Tennessee. USDA Zones 4–8.

Hamamelis virginiana var. mexicana
Mexican witch hazel

A rare new species of cream-flowered deciduous shrub/tree from Mexico which was introduced by Yucca Do Nursery of Texas. Rapid growing and easier to propagate from cuttings than most species. USDA Zones 7–9? Sun or light shade.

  • deciduous shrub to 12'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • pale yellow flowers in fall

Hedera Collection
ivy collection

One each of the following two ivies: Hedera colchica 'Dentata Variegata'—"variegated Persian ivy". A showy large-leaved evergreen ivy with 3 awards from the Royal Horticultural Society (1907, 1979, and 1984) and much praised in plant references. A ground cover or it will climb wood and in USDA Zones 6–9, and can be used as a houseplant in colder areas and Hedera rhombea 'Variegata'—"variegated Korean ivy". Small to medium sized, variegated leaves—rare in commercial trade. Again a ground cover or vine in USDA Zones 6–9, or houseplant in colder areas.

Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant'
spider lily

A very beautiful herbaceous bulb/perennial with superb foliage and striking large white flowers in summer. Obtained from Scott Ogden in Texas and slowly built up by division of clumps since. Hardiness unknown USDA Zones 8–9 (7?). We've been growing it as a tubbed plant.

  • herbaceous perennial to 36"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in summer

Ilex Collection
holly collection

Choice of 3 of the following 8 hollies: Ilex aquifolium 'Angustifolia' (12) – Broadleaved evergreen shrub with narrow leaves and very fine texture; has been one of the best adapted English hollies to southern heat in our plantings, Ilex cornuta 'D'Or' (30) – A bright yellow-fruited form of the familiar "Burford"-type Chinese holly; showy in fruit, Ilex crenata 'Rocky Creek' (30) – A contorted branch growth form of the familiar Japanese holly—very different, Ilex crenata 'Skypencil' (8) – Japanese cultivar of this evergreen shrub with rapid, tightly fastigate growth habit, Ilex opaca 'Clarendon Spreading' (8) – Eastern U.S. species; brdlvd evergreen shrub—spreading habit. A North Carolina cultivar, Ilex opaca 'Silver Crown' (12) – Eastern US species; broadleaved evergreen tree with white-variegated foliage—slow, Ilex rubra – "Mexican holly" (8). A new evergreen holly with red fruit originally collected in Mexico by Yucca Do Nursery. Small foliage is a bit like the "Blue" hollies with fine toothed margins. Hardiness is unknown—likely USDA Zones 7–9?, and Ilex × 'Ginny Brunner' (8) – Evergreen shrub hybrid with large foliage (a latifolia hybrid), rapid growth, and red fruit.

  • hardy

Indigofera gerardiana

A beautiful deciduous shrub to 4' from China with delicate compound foliage and attractive pink flowers for 3 months in summer and fall. USDA Zones 5–9; sun or light shade.

Lindera aggregata
golden spicebush

A rare evergreen species of large shrub/small tree from China with attractive glossy foliage throughout the year and sowy yellow flowers in masses in early spring. USDA Zones 6–9? sun or light shade.

  • to 8'–12'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy

Liquidambar styraciflua 'Rotundiloba'
fruitless sweet gum

Originally discovered in 1930, this deciduous native shade tree has round lobed leaves which turn purple in late fall and it does not produce any "gumballs". Now beginning to enter nursery trade from promotion by The NCSU Arboretum. USDA Zones 6–9; best in sun.

Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Burgundy'
purple-leaf Chinese fringe flower

Originally collected in China by plantsman James Waddick, Ph.D. A broadleaved evergreen shrub to 8'–10' with purple foliage and striking hot-pink flowers (heavy in spring and sporadically all summer). USDA Zones 7–9 or a sunporch tubbed plant. Sun or partial shade.

  • hardy

Magnolia stellata 'Chrysanthemumiflora'
many-petalled star magnolia

A very fine uncommon Japanese cultivar of this deciduous large shrub/small tree which produces heavily doubled white flowers in early spring. USDA Zones 4–8; best in sun.

  • hardy

Magnolia zenii
Zen magnolia

One of newest of cultivated species of magnolias with recent introduction from Jiangsu Province, China to western culture by The Arnold Arboretum. A decidous flowering tree with white, rose-purple streaked fragrant flowers in early spring. USDA Zones 5–9. Best in sun, will grow in partial shade.

  • deciduous tree to 30'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy
  • white w/purple streaks flowers in spring

Mahonia lanceolata
Mexican grape holly

A spectacular new broadleafed evergreen shrub/small tree from Mexico with fragrant yellow flowers in midwinter. Notable for its long (2'–3') inflorescences which flower over a long period. Hardiness is not known since it is so new—but likely USDA Zones 7–9?. Wonderful plant. Sun or partial shade.

Nandina domestica Collection
heavenly bamboo collection

The NCSU Arboretum has the largest collection of cultivars of this broad-leaved evergreen in the U.S. Many of the slow and unusual foliage form types are not available in commercial culture. You will receive three cultivars of our choice of these rare types.

  • hardy

Osmanthus Collection

Two plants false holly. Selections include" Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus – An evergreen shrub from China with fragrant orange-red flowers in October. A highlight visitor favorite plant when in bloom when it scents the air for a hundred feet. USDA Zones 7–9. Sun or shade. Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Sasaba' – "Sasaba false holly" . Japanese broadleaf evergreen shrub with white fragrant flowers and handsome dark green and deeply cut "starlike" foliage. This cultivar was collected by Barry Yinger and distributed by Brookside Gardens—but due to slow growth it is not in commercial trade. USDA Zones 7–9. Sun or shade.

  • hardy semi-hardy

Palm Collection

Two plants. Collection includes: Sabal sp. – A hardy trunkless palm which has been in the winter garden for many years—showy, long inflorescences. Trachycarpus martianus – a rare palm from southeast Asia related to the more commonly grown, T. fortunei.

Perennials of Note Collection

Collection includes three plants: Chrysanthemum weyrichii – an evergreen, ground cover species to 2"–3" covered in bright pink flowers in late spring. Liatris graminifolia – a fine-textured and very graceful beautiful species of blazing star to 15". Muhlenbergia dumosa – a magnificent grass from Arizona with delicate lacy texture—to 5' tall and wide.

Photinia villosa 'Village Shade'
downy photinia

A flowering deciduous small tree from China introduced by The NCSU Arboretum. It may be the finest small tree out of our program—with handsome dark green, glossy foliage, masses of white flowers in spring, and showy red fruit in autumn. USDA Zones 5–9. Sun or partial shade.

  • hardy

Podophyllum pleianthum
Chinese mayapple

A new (not yet in any of my references—even the RHS Dictionary) herbaceous perennial from China with large dramatic foliage much like the American Mayapple—reportedly with deep blood-red flowers. Seedlings from seed obtained from noted plantsman Barry Yinger. USDA Zones 6–9?; best in shade.

  • herbaceous perennial to 18"–24"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • burgundy flowers in spring

Poliothyrsis sinensis
pearl-bloom tree

A rare monotypic genus of deciduous tree from China with whte fragrant flowers in summer. Red fall foliage color. USDA Zones 5–8; best in sun.

  • flowering deciduous tree to 35'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in summer

Prunus mume 'Rosemary Clarke'
flowering apricot

Raulston's favorite of course—a small deciduous flowering tree with intensely fragrant flowers in January–March. This is the later blooming one west of the Japanese garden which is a sheet of double white flowers in mid-spring. USDA Zones 6–9; sun or partial shade.

  • hardy

Pseudolarix amabilis
golden larch

An exceptionally beautiful monotypic genus of deciduous conifer tree from China with lacy fern-like foliage in summer and brilliant golden fall color; fast growing. USDA Zones 4–8; best in sun.

  • deciduous conifer to 50'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy

Quercus phillyreoides 'Emerald Sentinel'
columnar Ubame oak

A new cultivar from The NCSU Arboretum which differs from the species in being more upright (almost fastigate) with great vigor (2'–4' per year once established)—making a beautiful and fast-growing multi-trunk evergreen tree. USDA Zones 6–9. Best in sun.

  • hardy

Rhododendron 'Trude Webster'
Greer hybrid rhododendron

The first rhododendron to receive a 5/5 ranking from the American Rhodendron Society (1–5 with 5 being tops—the two numbers for flowers and for foliage). Huge inflorescences of pink flowers on a handsome evergreen shrub. USDA Zones 6–8; shade with good drainage and moisture.

Rhodophiala bifida
oxblood lily

A bulb from Argentina which blooms freely in September with 8"–12" tall inflorescences of bright red flowers. It produces foliage which persists through the winter and disappears in spring—remaining dormant until its surprise flowering in fall. USDA Zone 7–9 or for pot culture further north. Best in light shade.

  • herbaceous perennial bulb to 12"
  • plant in sun to part sun
  • hardy
  • red flowers in September
  • deer resistant

Rhus chinensis 'September Beauty'
Chinese sumac

An outstanding selection by Dr. Orton of Rutgers of this Chinese deciduous tree to 25' with white flowers in autumn. Beautiful panicles 2' in diameter in September and great yellow to orange to red fall foliage color. USDA Zones 5–8; best in sun.

  • hardy

Sinojackia xylocarpa
Chinese jacktree

A rare and beautiful deciduous white-flowering tree native to China which blooms with masses of showy flowers in spring; unusual fruit in fall. This species has probably never been sold in U. S. trade to date. USDA Zones 6–9?; best in sun.

  • hardy


A beautiful deciduous shrub to 15' with arching branches bearing pendulous 3"–7" racemes of showy yellow flowers in early spring—now represented in U. S. culture only by S. praecox. (USDA Zone 6–8; light shade). The following three species grown by us from Chinese seed recently are not represented in my western references and we know nothing of their cultural adaptation now. They should be very exciting if hardy. Stachyurus salicifolius, S. szechuanensis and S. yunnanensis.

Styrax japonicus 'Crystal'
Japanese snowbell

New NCSU Arboretum introduction—a deciduous flowering tree to 15' with profusely produced small white flowers highlighted by purple pedicels and very dark green foliage. One of our very best small flowering deciduous trees. USDA Zone 6–9. Best in sun, but will do in light shade.

  • hardy

Taxus chinensis
Chinese yew

The common yews grown in the north do not survive well in the south with root rots. This beautiful species has performed very well in the arboretum—easy to propagate and fast growing with up to 2'–3' per year possible. Will be a tree or can be sheared to any shape—has good potential for use as a Christmas tree crop. USDA Zones 5–9? Sun or light shade.

  • evergreen shrub to 20'–30'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy

Tetradium daniellii
bee-bee tree

An uncommon deciduous tree from China with very showy red fruit in large panicles in late summer. Rapid growing and tough tree useful for as shade tree. USDA Zones 5–8 in sun.

Ulmus alata 'Lace Parasol'
weeping winged elm

A unique seedling of this beautiful elm with slow growth and weeping branches was discovered 45 years ago and grown in a private garden—reaching a size of 8' in height and 12' in diameter—much like a "winged Camperdown elm" with great beauty. Tough! USDA Zones 5–9. Best in sun.

  • deciduous tree to 15'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy


A beautiful small shrub collected in China by James Waddick, Ph.D; in our greenhouse it has been evergreen and blooms year-round with attractive yellow flowers. Not tried outside yet so hardiness is unknown—USDA Zones 7–9? A rare daphne relative which is essentially unknown in the U.S. at this time.