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.

1996 Plant Selection

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

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

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

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.

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

Anises 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

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

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 Zones 6–9. Best in sun, but will do in light shade.

  • 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