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

2012 Plant Selection

Abelia 'Lynn'
Pinky Bells large flowered dwarf abelia

This brand new abelia won't make it to better garden centers until sometime later in 2013 so this is an early opportunity to grab what promises to be a great plant. A hybrid between the large, pink flowered A. schumannii 'Bumblebee' and the N.C. found 'Little Richard', this new selection is the best of both worlds with the large pink flowers of the former and the small stature of the latter. In addition, the semi-evergreen foliage takes on reddish tints when emerging. Abelia are tough garden performers, belying their delicate, graceful appearance. We're told this form has the largest flowers of any abelia yet introduced!

  • flowering shrub to 3' tall
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • lavender–pink flowers in mid-summer to fall
Container size: 1 qt
Abelia 'Lynn'

Acer fabri
Faber maple

sun to part shade; 20' tall

  • evergreen tree to 20' tall
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • red flowers in late winter
  • red fruit in spring
Container size:

Acer pictum var. mono
painted maple

This medium sized maple is one of our very favorites at the JCRA with a nicely formed, rounded head. The fall color is typically a beautiful clear yellow. These plants are from seed we collected in Japan in 2011 where it was growing as a lovely understory tree. Expect it to grow to about 35' in the landscape although in the wild it can grow to almost twice that height. Plant in high shade or full sun.

  • deciduous tree to 35'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Acer pictum var. mono

Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost'
variegated bracted century plant

This lovely little agave is an absolute showstopper with a bright white margin along each of the stiff (and non-spiny!) leaves. Tony Avent's poetic description of it resembling a frozen squid is apt even if it doesn't do this knockout justice. It is a bit on the tender side so plant in a protected spot or even better grow it as a forgiving container plant. It likes a bit of shade making it easy to grow even indoors. With age, it offsets moderately and will flower with hummingbird attracting gold flowers.

  • to 1'
  • plant in light shade to shade, well-drained
Container size: cell
Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost'

Agave toumeyana var. bella
hardy century plant

This lovely little agave grows to only about 6" by 10" in attractive rosettes. Offsets readily form a tight colony perfect for a small scale ground cover or filling a pot. Each leaf on the rosette is deep green with chocolate brown margins and white striations. Always grow in a well-drained soil to ensure survival. Mature plants bear 4' flower spikes attractive to people and hummingbirds.

  • rosette to 6"
  • plant in sun to light shade, well-drained soil
  • whitish-green flowers in summer
Container size: cell
Agave toumeyana var. bella

Agave toumeyana var. bella
hardy century plant

This lovely little agave grows to only about 6" by 10" in attractive rosettes. Offsets readily form a tight colony perfect for a small scale ground cover or filling a pot. Each leaf on the rosette is deep green with chocolate brown margins and white striations. Always grow in a well-drained soil to ensure survival. Mature plants bear 4' flower spikes attractive to people and hummingbirds.

  • rosette to 6"
  • plant in sun to light shade, well-drained soil
  • whitish-green flowers in summer
Container size: cell
Agave toumeyana var. bella

Asphodeline liburnica
Jacob's rod

This fantastically architectural and showy plant is a knockout when the large golden flowers open in late spring over an extended period. The bluish-green, grassy foliage is nice over the rest of the season but the tall spikes of flowers are the main claim to fame of this easy to grow perennial. Plant in a relatively well-drained spot in the perennial garden, meadow garden, or other setting where the vertical form will complement the surrounding plants.

  • herbaceous perennial to 3'
  • plant in sun
  • yellow flowers in summer
Container size: 4" pot
Asphodeline liburnica

Callicarpa japonica 'Inagali'
variegated Japanese beautyberry

We received this lovely little variegated beautyberry from plantsman and punster extraordinaire Sean Hogan of Cistus Design Nursery. It has leaves heavily splashed and splotched with white which contrasts beautifully against the darker stems. Although not entirely stable, the occasional errant pure green shoot can be easily snipped out. Best in a bit of shade. We haven't seen fruit yet but are told they will be purple on this form.

  • deciduous shrub to 5'
  • plant in part sun to shade
  • pale pink flowers in summer
Container size: 4" pot
Callicarpa japonica 'Inagali'

Castanopsis delavayi
Delavay's chinquapin

This uncommon oak relative from China makes a lovely thick trunked tree ultimately to about 50' tall. The serrate evergreen leaves are quite attractive and make this plant a worthwhile addition to any oak lover's garden. The acorn-like fruits mature in their second year and are reportedly edible. This species is probably somewhat tender and may benefit from being planted in a protected spot or under high shade.

  • evergreen tree to 50'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • na flowers in na
Container size: 3" pot
Castanopsis delavayi

Cistus psilosepalus
smooth sepalled rock rose

This poor plant suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, being listed variously as Cistus ×incanus or C. inflatus or even C. hirsutus. To paraphrase the bard, a rock rose by any other name would smell as sweet. This lovely little plant makes a delightful mound in a well-drained garden spot. These were propagated from our plant which has survived in the Scree Garden since 2006. Look for heavily textured evergreen foliage topped in early March by delightful white flowers with a gold eye. Best in a very sunny, very well-drained spot.

  • perennial to 3'
  • plant in full sun, well-drained soil
  • white flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Cistus psilosepalus

Comanthosphace japonica 'Golden Angel'
gold Japanese shrub mint

(syn. Leucosceptrum japonicum) This lovely little woodland shrub mint from Japan makes a bold mound of bright gold foliage when it emerges in the spring almost like a perennial coleus. It provides a very satisfying presence in the garden all season or can be cut back when the bright color fades to encourage a second flush of gold foliage. Fall brings on terminal spikes of pale yellow bottlebrush flowers.

  • herbaceous/subshrub to 36"
  • plant in shade
  • yellow flowers in fall
Container size:
Comanthosphace japonica 'Golden Angel'

Crinum 'Menehune'
dwarf purple crinum

This is one of the smallest crinums available for the garden. It was originally bred in Hawai'i and as such is little better than marginally hardy in central North Carolina but will probably be fine along the coast. In full sun, the narrow strappy leaves will grow upright and remain deep burgundy black. In some shade the foliage will be more burgundy and gracefully arching. Flowers, when they deign to appear, are bright pink. Perhaps best grown as a container plant in the Raleigh area where it will appreciate lots of water.

  • to 24"
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size:
Crinum 'Menehune'

Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko Dawn'
variegated slender deutzia

A variegated form of the popular Nikko deutzia forming a low mound to 3’ and slightly wider. Best in light shade, but will take full sun with adequate moisture. Creamy edged foliage and bright white spring flowers. Zone 5–9.

  • to 3'
  • plant in sun to light shade
Container size:
Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko Dawn'

Diervilla rivularis 'Troja Black'
purple-leaved Georgia bush honeysuckle

This is an exciting new Dutch selection of our native bush honeysuckle. The foliage emerges purple and is topped in summer by bright yellow flowers over an extended period. It grows to about 5’ tall and slightly wider. Full sun to part shade. This species is a favorite of butterflies!

  • deciduous flowering shrub to 3' tall × 6' wide
  • plant in full sun to part shade
  • yellow flowers in summer
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly and deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Diervilla rivularis 'Troja Black'

Exbucklandia populnea
Malayan aspen

This very unusual evergreen relative of our native sweetgum has graced the entrance to the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center since 2003. It has proven to be a surprisingly hardy plant with large, glossy, palmately lobed leaves and is sure to be a conversation starter in the garden since it will look like nothing else in your neighborhood. It is rarely available but our tree has begun setting seed and we finally have plants to share.

  • to 45'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Exbucklandia populnea

Ficus carica 'Violette de Bordeaux'
edible fig

This fruit-bearing fig is known for producing good-sized deep purple fruits with red flesh and a very rich taste. Our plant has not begun bearing heavily but when it does, we expect to get two crops per season on it. Even without fruit, the deeply cut foliage and stout stems make it an imposing landscape plant.

  • to 6'
  • plant in sun
Container size:
Ficus carica 'Violette de Bordeaux'

Gladiolus tristis
ever flowering gladiolus

This South African bulb makes a lovely addition to the well-drained sunny garden. Upright, strappy foliage gives rise to widely flared, six-petaled flowers in clusters of two to six. Typically the foliage emerges in fall and grows through winter before opening its greenish-white flowers in spring. The flowers can be deliciously fragrant at night although this recessive trait will be variable. Plants should be reliably hardy at least to zone 7b.

  • to 3'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Gladiolus tristis

Heterothalamus alienus
heterothalamus

sun; 3'

  • evergreen perennial to 3'
  • plant in sun
  • yellow flowers in late summer
Container size:

Hydrangea serrata [Amacha Group] 'Ô Amacha Nishiki'
variegated mountain hydrangea

The mountain hydrangeas from Japan are finer in texture than the bigleaf hydrangeas and seem to hold up to our heat without wilting better as well. This selection has delicate lacecap flowers in shades of pink, darkening towards the center. The flowers top the foliage which appears to have been dusted liberally with white speckles. The variegation is attractive but subtle enough for those who are on the fence with variegated plants. The Amacha group of hydrangeas were once used as sources for tea in Japan.

  • deciduous shrub to 3'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • pink to blue flowers in summer
Container size:
Hydrangea serrata [Amacha Group] 'Ô Amacha Nishiki'

Ilex buergeri
Buerger holly

sun to part shade; 35'–50'

  • evergreen tree to 35'–50'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • na flowers in na
Container size:

Ilex integra × I. latifolia
hybrid holly

We received this hybrid between two of our favorite hollies from Japanese plantsman extraodinaire, Mr. Hagiwara. Both species are non-spiny and this hybrid has leaves intermediate between the two parents. The foliage is glossy and large but not quite as big as I. latifolia. Our plant has been a vigorous grower and we expect it ultimately to form a large evergreen shrub or small tree with a bold texture and tough constitution.

  • evergreen tree to 15'–25'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • insignificant flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Ilex integra × I. latifolia

Ilex uraiensis
Taiwan holly

Want to stump the best plants-people you know? This highly endangered holly from China, Taiwan, and Japan is on the IUCN Red List, the database of endangered plants. The foliage is attractive and like our other holly offerings this year, it is spineless. Fruits are bright red and good sized. It will grow into an evergreen tree with time.

  • tree to 35'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • na flowers in na
Container size:
Ilex uraiensis

Illicium parviflorum (small leaf)
yellow anise

The yellow anise is one of the finest and toughest of our native evergreen shrubs. It grows wild in south Georgia and Florida but is perfectly hardy to zone 6. Despite growing in boggy conditions, it is adaptable to almost any garden situation and will tolerate significant drought once established. Small, yellow-green, star-like flowers appear in late spring to early summer. This small leaf form came to us well over a decade ago and has been a reliable performer in a neglected spot for many years. It will grow in sun or shade but seems to have the best color in some shade.

  • to 8'
  • plant in sun to moderate shade
Container size: 3" pot
Illicium parviflorum (small leaf)

Pittosporum tobira 'Kansai Sunburst'
variegated Japanese pittosporum

This bright cultivar of Japanese pittosporum came to us from Japan via the now unfortunately defunct Asiatica Nursery. New growth is brilliant yellow before softening to a creamy edge on the evergreen foliage. Fragrant flowers are an added bonus. Reports indicate that this may be somewhat tender and we have not had it in the ground long enough to say for sure. Great in full sun to part shade or in a container that is brought indoors.

  • evergreen shrub to 5'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Pittosporum tobira 'Kansai Sunburst'

Podocarpus macrophyllus 'Sunshine Spire'
columnar Japanese yew-pine

sun to light shade; 20' tall

  • evergreen to 20' tall
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • na flowers in na
Container size:

Prunus campanulata
Taiwan cherry

The Taiwan cherry is one of the finest of the early flowering cherries with bell-shaped flowers of the deepest rose red in late winter. It is highly prized in southern Japan and Taiwan where the flowering is greeted warmly each year.

  • to 25'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Prunus campanulata

Salvia penstemonoides
big red sage

Once thought to be extinct in the wild, but rediscovered in a few locales in Texas during the 1980s, 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: 3" pot
Salvia penstemonoides

Sphaeralcea 'Shell Pink'
hybrid globe mallow

sun; 12" × 24"

  • perennial to 12" × 24"
  • plant in sun
  • pink flowers in spring - summer
Container size:

Stachyurus 'Carolina Parakeet'
variegated spike-tail

JC Raulston Arboretum Introduction
We noticed this inverted sport of
Stachyurus 'Magpie' which emerges with a red flush opening to show the broad chartreuse centered leaf with a deep green edge and red petiole. It has proven to be a vastly better landscape than its parent. Long spikes of yellow winter flowers drape from the arching branches like a 70's bead curtain. Easy in sun or shade. Our numbers are limited on this new introduction so please make a backup selection if you choose this plant. If there is high demand, we will propagate more and offer it again next year.

  • to 10'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Stachyurus 'Carolina Parakeet'

Tagetes lucida
sweet-scented Mexican marigold

We love this Mexican marigold with highly aromatic foliage which makes it almost completely deer proof in the garden. The shrubby plant is topped in late summer and fall with small cheery yellow flowers. This shrubby marigold is great in herb gardens, fragrance gardens, and sunny perennial borders.

  • herbaceous perennial to 3'–4'
  • plant in sun, well-drained soil
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in fall
Container size: 3" pot
Tagetes lucida

Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Atsuba Chirimen'
dwarf variegated Asiatic jessamine

sun to shade; 4" by 36"

  • evergreen vine to 4" by 36"
  • plant in sun to shade
  • na flowers in na
Container size:

Trachelospermum lanyuense
Lanyu Island jessamine

We received this rarely grown species of jessamine from our friends at Smith College. This evergreen vine hails from the very south of Taiwan where it makes a lovely groundcover or scrambling woody vine with fragrant white flowers. It will likely not be hardy in NC but will make a great vining houseplant or the adventurous gardener could try it outdoors in a protected spot.

  • to 20'
  • plant in sun to part shade
Container size: 3" pot
Trachelospermum lanyuense

Wisteria sinensis 'Kofuji'
super dwarf Chinese wisteria

This little plant is very unlike any other wisteria. It makes a small shrubby plant to about 18” tall with small pinnate leaves. Occasionally, a slightly more vigorous shoot emerges which will have small panicles of lightly scented, lavender flowers. It is most often grown as a bonsai but makes an excellent garden specimen as well. Propagate by softwood cuttings. Hardy to zone 5. Sun to part shade.

  • deciduous shrubby vine to 3'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • lavender flowers in spring
Container size:
Wisteria sinensis 'Kofuji'