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.

1995 Plant Selection

×Amarcrinum memoria-corsii 'Howardii'

A very beautiful bulb plant resulting from a cross of Amaryllis and Crinum with pink flowers on 2.5' stalks—typically in spring and fall in North Carolina. It has been hardy with us for many years; and also makes an excellent sun porch tub plant for northern areas. Sun or light shade. USDA Zones 7–10.

  • to 24"–30"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy

Asarum splendens
Chinese wild ginger

A beautiful broad-leaved evergreen herbaceous perennial ground cover introduced recently from China by the Arnold Arboretum, Boston. Can reach 1' in height with silver mottled green foliage. Propagated slowly by division of clumps. USDA Zones 7–9 and best in light shade, particularly in winter.

  • to 10"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy

Asian Tree Collection

Ehretia acuminata (Boraginaceae) and Nothaphoebe cavalieri (Lauraceae). Two truly rare and exotic Asian trees that have likely never been offered for sale in the United States. Ehretia is a deciduous tree with large panicles of white flowers for USDA Zones 5–9. Nothaphoebe is an evergreen tree of great beauty—likely much less hardy—projected for USDA Zone 8 or 9?

Baptisia Collection
wild-indigo collection

This group of herbaceous perennials has become one of my favorites in the arboretum with widely diverse plant habit, texture, and flower color (yellow, cream, white, purple, blue). You will receive a selection of four different species for trial. Best in full sun—very stress tolerant. USDA Zones 5–9.

Betula nigra 'Little King'
Fox Valley dwarf river birch

A recent trademarked plant introduction from the Chicago Botanic Garden; a dwarf form of the common river birch which will reach 10' with time. Beautiful bark. USDA Zones 5–9 and best in full sun—takes wet or dry soils.

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

Bignonia capreolata 'Tangerine Beauty'

A new color form of the native crossvine with tangerine reddish-orange flowers which was provided by Scott Ogden of Texas and introduced by The NCSU Arboretum in 1993. Rapid growth; evergreen vine covered in flowers in spring and reblooms. USDA Zones 5–9. Sun or shade.

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

Camellia 'Carolina Moonmist'
Cochran camellia

In the 1960s, Fred Cochran, Ph.D., did some of the earliest C. sasanqua × oleifera hybridization to obtain hardier landscape camellias. This seedling of his was recently selected and named by The NCSU Arboretum for its large pink to rose flowers and a plant hardy in USDA Zone 6. Best in light shade.

  • hardy

Cephalotaxus Collection
plum yew collection

Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'H. W. Sargent', 'Prostrata', and 'Fastigata'; and C. drupaceae True yews cannot be grown well in the south; but this tough stress-resistant conifer shrub fills that niche. Among the most deer-proof of all plants. USDA Zones 5–9. Sun or shade. You will receive two of the four selections listed.

  • hardy

Cissus trifoliata
marine ivy

The tropical houseplant "kangaroo vine" is well known and widely used; but few have seen this hardy cousin from the southeast United States. which grows into west Texas and Kansas—very stress tolerant. Evergreen to deciduous depending on where it is grown. Attractive compound foliage. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • hardy

Citrus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'
contorted hardy orange

A spectacular and interesting shrub/small tree at any time of year with white fragrant flowers in spring, dark green trifoliate foliage in summer; yellow citrus-like fruit in fall and twisted and contorted branches and thorns in winter. Very stress tolerant. USDA Zones 5–9; sun to partial shade.

  • flowering tree to 12' tall
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring

Daphniphyllum macropodum

An outstanding broad-leaved evergreen Asian tree with handsome foliage to 6"–8" in length and blue fruit in panicles in the fall and winter. USDA Zones 6–9 and will grow in full sun or moderate shade.

  • evergreen tree to 25'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy to zone 6
  • blue fruit in winter

Euphorbia ×martinii
wood spurge

A very beautiful herbaceous perennial that came to us from noted plantsman Barry Yinger—performing superbly in his central Pennsylvania garden. It is upright in growth with the typical Euphorbia exotic flowers in shades of chartreuse green. Sun or light shade. USDA Zone 5–9.

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 6–9. 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

Forsythia 'Fiesta'
variegated forsythia

A truly unique and superior forsythia which has handsome cut-leaf and variegated foliage for interest beyond the normal short spring show period of this genus; and a compact plant which will not eat windows and walkways or require frequent pruning. USDA Zones 5–9; best in full sun for heavy flowering.

  • hardy

Grab Bag of Treasures Collection

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

Hedera colchica 'Dentata Variegata'

A showy, large-leaved, evergreen ivy with three 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 stone in USDA Zones 6–9, and can be used as a houseplant in colder areas.

  • hardy

Hibiscus 'Tosca'
hybrid rose-of-Sharon

An unusual hybrid of a woody species, H. syriacus crossed with a herbaceous species—producing a woody shrub which produces large showy flowers through much of the summer. Best in sun. USDA Zones 6–9?

  • hardy

Hippeastrum papilio
butterfly amaryllis

A spectacular houseplant with exotically shaped flowers of greens and purples—often featured as the highlight cover special in national mail order catalogs. Culture as for any amaryllis—for outdoor use in gardens in USDA Zones 8–10; or houseplant elsewhere. Originally distributed as Hippeastrum papilio 'Butterfly'.

  • evergreen bulb houseplant to 2'
  • plant in sun
  • tender
  • white with red stripes flowers in winter
  • A spectacular houseplant with exotically shaped flowers of greens and purples

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?).

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

Ilex Collection
holly collection

Ilex cornuta 'September Beauty' – A future NCSU Arboretum introduction with early coloring fruit in fall. Ilex crenata 'Rocky Creek' – A contorted branch growth form of the familiar Japanese holly—very different. Ilex crenata ' Snowflake' – Showy white variegated foliage with over half the leaf white. Ilex decidua 'Gold Finch' – Deciduous holly with very showy yellow fruit in winter. Ilex opaca 'Stewart's Silver Crown' – East US species; broadleaved evergreen tree with white-variegated foliage—slow. Ilex rubra – "Mexican Holly" – 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?.

  • hardy

Illicium henryi
Henry anise

The Anise Trees are becoming widely popular evergreen shrubs for screening and their showy flowers. But this species, which is the most beautiful with very attractive pink flowers, is rarely offered for sale. Can become a 20' plant with age. Tough plant with no pests. Sun or shade. USDA Zones 7–9.

  • hardy

Keteleeria davidiana
David's keteleeria

A rare genera of Chinese conifers with much the look and texture of firs—but proving to be much better adapted to the south. Not commercially available at present. The NCSU Arboretum plant is growing 3' per year and is now 15' tall. Useful for specimen, sheared hedge, Christmas tree. Sun. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • pyramidal conifer to 40' in cultivation
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy

Leucothoe racemosa

A native southeastern U.S. plant of great beauty with long racemes of white flowers in early summer, more tolerance to heat and poorly drained soils than most Leucothoe, semi evergreen in our area. Rarely seen and not in commercial trade—great potential. Sun or shade. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • to 3'–7'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy

Lonicera nitida 'Silver Beauty'

A new silver-edged foliage variegation cultivar of this semi-evergreen low shrub recently introduced in England and not yet available in the United States. Fine textured and easy to propagate from cuttings; has potential for use as a bonsai subject. USDA Zones 7–9; sun to part shade.

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

A broad-leaved evergreen shrub to 8'–10' with purple foliage and striking hot-pink flowers (heavy in spring and sporadically all summer). Of the many new cultivars now entering the market—this is the best one. USDA Zones 7–9 or a sun porch tubbed plant. Sun or partial shade.

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

Magnolia ×foggii

A genus of evergreen shrubs and trees closely related to Magnolias with large fragrant flowers. We have tried many types and this has been the best—rapid growing and large; white showy flowers in spring. Sun or shade. USDA Zones 7–9.

Magnolia grandiflora 'Hasse'
upright southern magnolia

Cultivar magnolias have become very popular in recent years. This is one of the finest with dark green foliage; and columnar growth excellent for accent specimens or screening—but is rarely available as it is extremely difficult to propagate. Best in sun. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • hardy

Mahonia ×media 'Underway'
Oregon grape

A wonderful hybrid cultivar of M. bealei ×lomarifolia which blooms with large fragrant panicles of showy yellow flowers in mid-winter. Rarely available in the United States and among the very finest of plants for the southern landscape. USDA Zones 7–9; best in winter shade.

  • hardy

Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus
orange sweet olive

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.

  • evergreen shrub to 10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • orange fragrant flowers in fall
  • deer resistant

Palm Collection

Sabal minor – the northernmost provenance from collections in Oklahoma—supposedly growing successfully in gardens in Kansas in USDA Zone 6. Sabal sp. – A hardy trunk less palm which has been in the NCSU garden for many years—showy long inflorescences. Trachycarpus fortunei – Seedlings of a particularly hardy parent tree uninjured in Raleigh through many record winters.

Photinia amphidoxa
Chinese photinia

A unique plant to The NCSU Arboretum with possible first introduction to the United States. Grown from Chinese seed. A deciduous small tree with white flowers in spring, dark green foliage, and large and very showy glossy red fruit in fall and winter. Certainly never sold anywhere in the world. Sun. USDA Zone 5–9?

  • hardy

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

Quercus Collection

Quercus acuta and Q. phillyreoides (Fagaceae). Two very beautiful and rarely available evergreen oaks from Asia. Q. acuta has one of the most handsome leaves of any plant with long tapering tips—and large spectacular winter buds. The other species has smaller leaves; is hardier; and generally grows multi-trunk. Both excellent. Sun. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • hardy semi-hardy

Rhaphiolepis umbellata 'Blueberry Muffin'
Yeddo hawthorn

Raphiolepis are widely grown in the southeast—but many have disease and hardiness problems. This new NCSU Arboretum release is exceptionally cold hardy, root rot and foliage disease resistant; and has white flowers, deep blue fruit and purple winter foliage. Sun. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • hardy

Rhododendron 'Tama-no-hada'

The Satsuki azaleas are well known; blooming after the mass of spring azaleas. This plant was purchased in a California nursery to make cuttings from because of the gigantic white and pink flowers—bigger than I'd ever seen on an azalea (up to 4" across!). USDA Zones 6–9; best in light shade.

Sequoia sempervirens 'Soquel'
coastal redwood

A selection of Coastal Redwood from Monrovia Nursery in 1981 with dark green foliage and upswept branches—becoming a large tree with time. Has grown very well at the arboretum. Best in sun as adult, but benefits from winter shade when young. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • hardy

Sinojackia rehderiana

A little known deciduous flowering tree from China which has been exceptional in our trials. Showy white flowers in spring, thick leathery and glossy foliage all summer, and interesting fruit in winter. Very stress tolerant. Rare and has not been commercially available in the United States. Best in sun. USDA Zones 5–9.

  • hardy

Sophora koreensis
Korean necklace-pod

An exceptionally rare deciduous shrub endemic to Korea. Grows to 2' with compound foliage and yellow flowers in spring. Probably in less than a dozen collections in North America at present. More a novelty than showy ornamental, but it is quietly attractive. USDA Zones 5–8. Best in sun.

  • hardy

Stachyurus praecox 'Rubriflora'
pink spike-tail

A deciduous shrub to 10' with age which normally bears showy pendant panicles of yellow flowers in early spring (like forsythia in a wisteria fashion). This is a newly introduced English cultivar of this Chinese species not in any literature yet. The name implies red flowers! We hope so. Propagated from first plant in United States this summer. USDA Zones 6–9; best in light shade to full sun with moisture.

  • large shrub to 18'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • reddish-yellow flowers in early spring

Stauntonia angustifolia
Farge's holboellia

A rare evergreen vine from China with delicate and beautiful palmately compound leaves. There are separate male and female plants which produce flowers in shades of green and purple—both sexes are required to produce the egg-like fruit. Sun or partial shade. USDA Zones 7–9.

  • to 10’+
  • plant in sun to shade

Stewartia ovata

One of the very choicest of the innumerable fine southeastern U.S. native shrubs with single white flowers with purple stamens and ruffled petal edges. Very highly sought after and rarely available because of extreme propagation difficulties. These fine plants are from the research program of Tom Ranney, Ph.D. Sun to light shade with good drainage essential for success. USDA Zones 5–9.

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

Styrax japonicus 'Emerald Pagoda'
Japanese snowbell

New NCSU Arboretum introduction from a 1985 collection in Korea. Deciduous flowering tree to 25' with leathery foliage and flowers 3–4 times of the species with great fragrance. Michael Dirr, Ph.D., states it is "the best plant released by The NCSU Arboretum. Sun. USDA Zones 5–9.

  • deciduous tree to 20'–30' tall
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in April–May

Syringa oblata subsp. dilatata
Korean early lilac

Perhaps the most missed plant in the southern landscape by northern" immigrants" is the traditional lavender fragrant lilac of New England fame. We've found a heat tolerant species that looks and smells like a lilac should. Seedlings from the clone we're distributing to nurserymen. Sun. USDA Zones 4–9.

  • hardy

Thuja ×soeegaardii 'Green Giant'

Both parents are vigorous and beautiful conifers of great value in our area—and this new hybrid brings even more vigor to the cross. Fast growing with upright columnar growth—will make an excellent specimen or, if propagated, an excellent hedge. USDA Zones 5–8. Best in sun.

  • evergreen conifer to 30'+
  • plant in sun to partial shade

Thujopsis dolabrata
false arborvitae

A very beautiful conifer tree native to Japan with graceful fernlike sprays of dark green foliage. Although easy to grow, fast, and highly ornamental—for some reason it is not in commercial production and is rarely available. Sun or partial shade. USDA Zones 6–9.

  • hardy

Zenobia pulverulenta 'Woodlanders Blue'
dusty zenobia

One of the finest of native southeastern U.S. deciduous shrubs with long panicles of white pieris-like flowers in spring and brilliant orange-red foliage in fall. This Woodlander's Nursery selection has in addition blue foliage through the summer. USDA Zones 6–9. Best in sun with moisture and good drainage.

  • semi-evergreen shrub to 3'–5'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • white flowers in spring