Connoisseur Plants

Connoisseur Plants are rare, new plants, or hard-to-find old favorites. These wonderful plants are being offered to our donors.

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.

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

2019–2020 – Closes March 8 – Check Your E-mail for a Message from Kathryn Wall

2010 Plant Selection

Abutilon megapotamicum 'Little Imp'
flowering maple

This little flowering maple has long been a favorite of ours here at the JCRA. The dark stems clothed in small leaves spray up and out to mingle well with other plants in the ground or in a mixed container. Dusty red calyces surround the nodding yellow flowers over an exceptionally long period from spring until frost. We find it to be a hardy and easy plant to grow in the landscape and as an indoor houseplant.

  • die-back shrub to 3' tall
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • root hardy
  • red and yellow flowers in spring to frost
Container size:
Abutilon megapotamicum 'Little Imp'

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'
variegated thorn-crested agave

One of the very hottest variegated agaves around, these exceptional plants are propagated only by offsets. The dramatic foliage starts pale green in the center surrounded by deep green with a broad creamy white margin and burgundy darkening to grey-black sharp teeth along the margins. Likes well-drained soil and regular summer waterings.

  • succulent to 18"
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'

Amsonia elliptica
Asian bluestar

The only Asian species of an otherwise North American herbaceous perennial, this plant forms a tight clump of upright stems to about 18" to 24" tall. The stems clothed in lanceolate leaves are topped in spring by clusters of pale blue starry flowers. Fall color is a nice gold. A tough plant for full sun to light shade and most soils.

  • herbaceous perennial to 2'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
  • pale blue flowers in spring
Container size:
Amsonia elliptica

Aucuba japonica 'Hosoba Hoshifu'
Japanese aucuba

Aucubas are must-have shrubs for the shade garden. This unusual Japanese form is somewhat compact, growing to about 6' tall. It bears conspicuously narrow foliage heavily speckled with gold. The variegation is much brighter than most other forms of aucuba. Mostly inconspicuous purple flowers give rise to large red fruits on this female form. Great for brightening up a shady spot where it will tolerate significant drought once established.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • burgundy flowers in spring
  • gold speckled leaves
Container size:
Aucuba japonica 'Hosoba Hoshifu'

Berberis ×media 'Parkjuweel'
jeweled barberry

This hybrid barberry is rarely found in the United States but is highly prized in the United Kingdom where it has won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit. A dense, low mound of prickly stems bears lustrous deep green semi-evergreen foliage which often turns brilliant red in the fall and throughout the winter. Abundant yellow flowers in spring are very showy and are followed by reddish-purple fruits. 2' to 3' tall by 3' wide, adaptable to most soils, sun to shade, hardy to Zone 5.

  • to 3'
  • plant in sun to moderate shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Berberis ×media 'Parkjuweel'

Boehmeria nipononivea 'Kogane Mushi'
gold bug Japanese false nettle

A showy relative of nettles than can brighten up the shade garden. New growth emerges creamy yellow before becoming speckled with green. In excellent growing conditions it can approach 6' tall but is more typically about 4' in most gardens. Flowers are inconspicuous but the bright foliage makes a bold statement in the shade.

  • to 6'
  • plant in light shade to full shade
Container size:
Boehmeria nipononivea 'Kogane Mushi'

Camellia japonica var. rusticana 'Ai-no-izumi'
snow camellia

We love this unusual form of the snow camellia, a variety of Japanese camellia. The palest of pink flowers are small, perfectly double formal forms with just a touch of yellow toward the base. The Camellia Register describes the habit as loose and spreading but the specimen these plants were propagated from is dense and distinctly upright making it perfect for small spaces and focal points. Shade to part sun.

  • to 8'
  • plant in sun to shade
Container size:
Camellia japonica var. rusticana 'Ai-no-izumi'

Cercis chinensis 'Kay's Early Hope'
Chinese redbud

  • deciduous flowering tree to 15'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • pink-lavender flowers in early spring
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
  • JC Raulston Arboretum introduction
Container size:

Chimonanthus nitens
evergreen chimonanthus

A fall blooming, evergreen counterpart to the common wintersweet. The lovely narrow foliage is glossy, dark green and perfectly backs the translucent white flowers which are borne along the stems at each leaf axil. Despite being in the same genus as wintersweet, the flowers are not sweetly fragrant. Full sun to shade in most soils, 8' to 10' tall and wide with a graceful fountain shape.

  • to 10'
  • plant in sun or shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Chimonanthus nitens

Chimonanthus nitens
evergreen chimonanthus

  • to 10'
  • plant in sun or shade
  • hardy
Container size:

Clethra pringlei
Mexican clethra

A graceful small tree or large upright shrub growing to 20'. New growth emerges bronze before turning green. Cinnamon scented racemes of small white flowers in late spring adorn the tips of each branch. Mature specimens boast lovely peeling bark. Full sun to part shade.

  • semi-evergreen flowering shrub to 20'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • tender
  • white flowers in summer
Container size:
Clethra pringlei

Cornus mas 'Variegata'
variegated Cornelian cherry

An upright small tree or large shrub with shockingly bright, wide, white margins around each blue-green centered leaf. The foliage color brightens up the summer landscape after the brilliant gold late winter flowers. Red fruits stand out brightly against the foliage and can be made into jams or preserves. Despite having been grown in Europe since before 1600 and in the United States since at least 1870, this wonderful shrub is still rare in gardens. 15' to 18' tall, sun to part shade.

  • to 18'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Cornus mas 'Variegata'

Cryptomeria japonica 'Kilmacurragh'
dwarf cockscomb Japanese-cedar

Offered by the JCRA once previously a decade ago, this unusual dwarf form of the tough and easy to grow Japanese cedar makes a small mound with fan-shaped fasciations for added interest. These branch mutations give the plant a graceful, cloud-like habit. Sun to light shade, 3' to 4', slow growing.

  • to 4'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Cryptomeria japonica 'Kilmacurragh'

Daphne odora 'Zuiko Nishiki'
winter daphne

We've heard that plantsman extrordinaire, John Elsley of Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery and formerly of Wayside Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says this is the BEST Daphne odora. Glossy evergreen foliage in a low mound is covered in late winter by masses of slightly pink tinged, white flowers. This is by far the heaviest flowering daphne we've ever seen and we've seen a bunch. The fragrance is as lemony sweet as other daphne but the extra flowers provide even more punch to this intensely fragrant shrub. Daphne odora is best in a very well-drained soil and once established will grow under large shade trees with no problem.

  • evergreen flowering shrub to 5'
  • plant in light shade to shade, well-drained
  • hardy
  • Pinkish-white flowers in winter
Container size:
Daphne odora 'Zuiko Nishiki'

Eryngium giganteum
Miss Willmott's ghost

A short-lived perennial or biennial that will politely self sow in the perennial garden. This distinctive plant bears tall flower stalks to 5' topped with thimble-shaped clusters of silvery-white flowers surrounded by a spiny ruff of silver for a great architectural form. Perfect in borders, as a cut flower, and for attracting bees. Allow at least some seed heads to mature and sprinkle seed where you would like it to appear. Well-drained soils, full sun, to 5' when in flower.

  • to 5'
  • plant in sun, well-drained soil
Container size:
Eryngium giganteum

Eucomis 'Reuben'
hybrid pineapple lily

Assistant director Mark's very favorite of the hybrid pineapple lilies. Clean green rosettes of strappy foliage are topped in late summer by flower spikes of deep burgundy buds which open to pinkish-purple flowers. The characteristic tuft of foliage atop the flower stalk is often delicately edged with burgundy. The two-tone flower/foliage effect is quite striking. Bred in New Zealand for the cut flower trade, these plants perform great in sunny spots in the garden.

  • perennial to 18"
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • pinkish-purple flowers in late summer
Container size:
Eucomis 'Reuben'

Euonymus carnosus
fleshy-flowered spindletree

What a bad common name for a great tree. This quick-growing, small tree bears leathery deep green foliage on an upright, round-headed tree. Flowers are small, five-petaled, and greenish-white but not terribly showy. The fruits which follow are larger than many other euonymus and split open to reveal pink to orange-red seeds. The real reason this plant makes such a wonderful landscape plant is the deep burgundy fall color which can last from October through January. In Zone 8 gardens, the fall color often lasts almost until the new foliage emerges. Sun to partial shade, any soils, drought tolerant once established, to 20' tall.

  • small tree to 20'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in summer
Container size:
Euonymus carnosus

Euonymus japonicus 'Dr. Rokujo Variegated'
dwarf variegated Japanese euonymus

A miniature evergreen shrub for bonsai, rock gardens, and other small spaces. Upright stems to about 1' tall bear closely packed, tiny leaves edged with white. Despite its small size, the distinctive habit and color make a relatively large impact in the garden. It also makes a natural bonsai or trough plant. Sun to shade.

  • evergreen shrub to 1'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Euonymus japonicus 'Dr. Rokujo Variegated'

Exochorda korolkowii
Turkestan pearl bush

A rare species of pearl bush with typical pure white flowers opening in spring on an upright, rounded shrub. Nice summer foliage often gives way to showy yellow fall color. These plants were raised from seed acquired by the JCRA from Hungary. Some taxonomists consider this to be synonymous with E. racemosa.

  • to 10'
  • plant in full sun
Container size:
Exochorda korolkowii

Hydrangea aspera 'Burgundy Bliss'
Chinese hydrangea

Large velvety leaves emerge deep burgundy on this showy flowering shrub. In cooler climates, the foliage retains this color while turning greenish in central North Carolina. Large lacecap hydrangea flower heads open from large buds in mid-summer. Showy and different than your grandmother's hydrangeas.

  • deciduous shrub to 6'–8'
  • plant in light shade to full shade
  • white/pink tinge flowers in mid-summer
Container size:
Hydrangea aspera 'Burgundy Bliss'

Juniperus cedrus
Canary Islands juniper

A wonderfully variable juniper that is native around the Mediterranean area from Portugal through France to Iran, Israel, and back east to Morocco. In the wild it grows from a shrubby mound to an upright tree. These seedlings from Portugal are likely shrubby forms to 10'. The overall color is silvery blue on tough plants. Best in well-drained soils.

  • coniferous tree to 28'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Juniperus cedrus

Lonicera ×heckrottii 'Gold Flame'
everblooming honeysuckle

This moderate growing vine to 10' or 15' blooms over an extended period from late spring into fall on new growth. Pink flowers with creamy yellow interiors turning darker golden-orange with age attract butterflies and hummers. Perfect for a smaller pergola or fence or it can be pruned into a small shrub. Full sun for the best flowering.

  • vine to 15'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
  • pink flowers in late spring-fall
Container size:
Lonicera ×heckrottii 'Gold Flame'

Meliosma parviflora
small flowered melliosma

This unpardonably rare tree is a true multi-season specimen. Loads of small, frothy white spring flowers give way to masses of brilliant red fruits by late summer. Yellow fall color is attractive, but the patchwork bark on mature specimens is as showy as just about any other hardy tree available. We've grown the tree for years. These seedlings are from seed collected at the Shanghai Botanical Garden. Full sun, to 25' tall.

  • to 25'
  • plant in full sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Meliosma parviflora

Myrica rubra
Chinese strawberry tree

A large shrub to medium sized tree, 12' to 60’ tall with a uniform crown, evergreen leaves, and smooth grey bark. Plants are dioecious and female plants bear edible dark red fruits to 1” in diameter. Male plants as well as female plants make attractive specimens even without fruit.

  • to 12'–60'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Myrica rubra

Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'
golden mock orange

A long grown, but hard to find deciduous spring flowering shrub. New foliage emerges shocking bright gold before toning down to chartreuse-lime. White, late spring flowers to nearly 2" across are sweetly scented. Best in full sun with regular water during the hottest parts of the summer.

  • to 6'–8'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'

Phormium cookianum
mountain flax

Divisions from the JCRA's long-lived specimen bear dusky gray-green strappy foliage with darker edges. The upright, grassy leaves provide an architectural accent to containers and gardens. While having survived in the JCRA for many years, these plants should be considered tender away from the coast and afforded some protection. It has never flowered at the Arboretum, but should have tall flower stalks to 15' bearing yellow to reddish flowers.

  • to 3'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy semi-hardy
Container size:
Phormium cookianum

Pileostegia viburnoides var. viburnoides
evergreen climbing false hydrangea

A must have for all plant lovers blessed with an abundance of shade. This evergreen hydrangea relative bears masses of frothy pink flower panicles like foam on a wave. Leathery evergreen foliage often takes on plum tones with cool weather. A vine with self-clinging rootlets perfect for clambering up a tree, fence, or shed. Quick growing to 18'-25' in shade and most soils.

  • to 30'
  • plant in light shade to shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Pileostegia viburnoides var. viburnoides

Pinus taiwanensis
Taiwan pine

One of the distinctive conifers of Taiwan with stout branches and long needles in bundles of 2. The straight stems and umbrella tops grow to 150' in its native habitat but are generally closer to 50' in cultivation. Sun, well-drained soil. From several collections in Taiwan.

  • to 80'
  • plant in full sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Pinus taiwanensis

Planera aquatica 'Falling Waters'
weeping water elm

This rare weeping form of a rare native plant gets even the most jaded plants-person's heart palpitating. A small elm relative that typically grows to near 35' in wet soils from NC south and along the gulf coast. This form found in Columbia, SC is gently weeping and is quite graceful with its small serrated leaves and arching habit. We have found this species to thrive in moist to very wet soils. Sun to part shade.

  • to 25'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Planera aquatica 'Falling Waters'

Platanus ×hispanica 'Suttneri'
variegated London planetree

A variegated foliage form of the popular planetree with irregular white splashes and speckles on the leaves. As interesting as the leaves are, the incredible smooth white bark glows in the landscape like a white pillar. The tree is somewhat anthracnose resistant. Foliage stays nicest with some moisture, but established plants are fairly drought tolerant. Full sun to light shade.

  • deciduous tree to 60'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Platanus ×hispanica 'Suttneri'

Podocarpus aff. fasciculus
Taiwan yew-pine

We have tentatively identified this plant as P. fasciculus based on descriptions in the Flora of Taiwan. Some taxonomists have grouped this species with P. neriifolius but our plant does not agree well with the description of that species. At any rate, cuttings of this plant were collected in 2009 at nearly 6,500' in west-central Taiwan. New growth emerges rusty red before turning deep green. Based on the elevation at which this plant was growing, we feel it should be hardy in central NC. Sun to shade.

  • to 30'
  • plant in sun or shade
Container size:
Podocarpus aff. fasciculus

Sabal blackburniana
cabbage palm

For pickup only. A palm of questionable background, this species is recognized by the typically conservative taxonomists at the USDA Germplasm Resources Network but is lumped into S. palmetto, S. bermudana, or S. domigensis. These plants are from seed received from Italy and may not be true to type. Plants in cultivation as S. blackburniana are solitary trunked trees very similar to S. palmetto often with smaller leaves and a bluish tint. These plants will certainly not be reliably hardy in central North Caroline but should be good for more southern and eastern gardeners. Ultimately to about 30' in cultivation, full sun, well-drained soil.

  • to 30'
  • plant in full sun
Container size:
Sabal blackburniana

Salvia penstemonoides
big red sage

Once thought to be extinct in the wild, but rediscovered in a few locales in Texas during the 1980's, this large sage grows 3' to 5' tall. Spikes of rosy-red flowers are frequented by hummingbirds during the summer. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Makes a dramatic presence in the garden and deserves to be more widely grown in gardens.

  • herbaceous perennial to 5'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • rosy-red flowers in summer
Container size:
Salvia penstemonoides

Sarcandra glabra
sarcandra

We have offered this evergreen subshrub previously, but these plants represent our 2009 collection in Taiwan. Leaves are glossy, medium-green in color, and strongly toothed on their margins. In summer to fall, bright orange-red berries are produced in terminal clusters. We have grown this species in our Lath House, since it benefits from protection from direct sunlight even in winter so it should be grown under pines or other evergreens. Somewhat tender and probably best in zone 8 gardens.

  • to 3'
  • plant in light shade to full shade
  • semi-hardy
Container size:
Sarcandra glabra

Schisandra arisanensis
magnolia vine

A beautiful glossy-leaved twining vine we collected in Taiwan. Drooping panicles of yellow to reddish flowers are lovely, fragrant and unfortunately short-lived. The clusters of brilliant red fruits look especially nice dripping through the branches of conifers and evergreen shrubs. Sun to part shade.

  • to 20'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Schisandra arisanensis

Stachyurus praecox 'Sterling Silver'
variegated golden spike-tail

A boldly variegated form of the woefully underused golden spike-tail shrub. The long acuminate tipped leaves are each outlined in bright white on this vigorous shrub for the shady garden. The arching fountain of branches drip with racemes of yellow flowers in late winter before the foliage emerges. Striking and different, 8'-10' tall and wide.

  • to 10'
  • plant in light shade to full shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Stachyurus praecox 'Sterling Silver'

Stauntonia aff. purpurea
stauntonia vine

Another Taiwan collection that we have tentatively identified as S. purpurea, a twining vine with evergreen palmately compound leaves with 3-5 leaflets. The showy flowers range from yellow with purple stripes to almost entirely purple. Grows in full sun to shade to 20'.

  • to 20'
  • plant in sun or shade
Container size:
Stauntonia aff. purpurea

Styrax japonicus Rubra Pendula Group
weeping pink Japanese snowbell

These cuttings from our best weeping, pink-flowered snowbell should be staked upright for the best landscape display or allowed to weep over a wall. Soft pink flowers brighten the spring garden on these vigorous growing plants. Find a prime spot for a specimen of this beautiful plant. Sun to light shade, 6' to 12' tall.

  • to 12'
  • plant in full sun to light shade
  • hardy
Container size:
Styrax japonicus Rubra Pendula Group

Tricyrtis ravenii
Raven's toad lily

A high elevation, sun loving, herbaceous perennial collected in Taiwan in 2008. This species was only described in 2007 and has not made its way into the trade as yet. The upright stems are topped from mid-summer to frost with loads of 3-petalled, purple spotted flowers. The flower production beats any other toadlily we've come across so far.

  • herbaceous perennial to 24"
  • plant in full to part sun
  • hardy
  • purple flowers in midsummer-fall
Container size:
Tricyrtis ravenii

Tripterygium hypoglaucum
tripterygium

A deciduous woody vine or sprawling shrub with frothy clusters of small white flowers followed by showy clusters of yellow-green, winged fruit. This is a rare and unusual species rarely encountered in western gardens. Grow in sun or shade, to 12' or more tall.

  • to 12'+
  • plant in sun to shade
Container size:
Tripterygium hypoglaucum

Viburnum atrocyaneum
evergreen viburnum

One of our favorite viburnums with a dense habit, small glossy, evergreen leaves, and shiny blue fruit. The leaves emerge reddish before turning deep green. Flat clusters of white flowers in late spring are showy against the dark foliage but the metallic blue fruits are standouts in the fall garden. Sun to part shade, 4'-6' tall.

  • evergreen flowering shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun or shade
  • greenish-white flowers in mid to late spring
Container size:
Viburnum atrocyaneum

Viburnum burejaeticum
Manchurian viburnum

Large felted, serrate foliage clothes this large shrub and turns brilliant burgundy in fall. Clusters of slightly fragrant white flowers give rise to dark blue-black fall fruits. Best in sun to part shade in any soil, to 15' tall.

  • deciduous flowering shrub to 10'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • white flowers in spring
Container size:
Viburnum burejaeticum

Viburnum corylifolium
hazel-leaf viburnum

A very rarely encountered viburnum (Mike Dirr notes only seeing the plant once at Kew in his viburnum book) with rounded foliage resembling Corylus. Flat clusters of white flowers in spring are showy with the brilliant red fall fruits screaming in the Autumn garden. Fall color is burgundy. Full sun to part shade.

  • deciduous flowering shrub to 10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers in mid to late spring
Container size:
Viburnum corylifolium

Weigela praecox
early weigela

Fabulous pink funnel-shaped flowers engulf this deciduous plant in early spring. Hummingbirds adore Weigela flowers. A native to temperate east Asia, specifically Japan, Korea, and Northern China. It is easy to grow and very reliable. 6' tall by 6' wide. Requires full sun to produce copious flowers but will grow in shadier spots.

  • to 6'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size:
Weigela praecox