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 (formlery 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 from Kathryn Wall. If you need assistance, please e-mail Kathryn at kbwall@ncsu.edu or call (919) 513-7004 Selections should be placed no later than end of day February 27, 2022.

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.

2016 Plant Selection

Aloe ecklonis
grass aloe

This species of South African grass aloe forms an attractive rosette of succulent leaves with tiny, white-toothed margins. It's particularly stunning in midsummer when plants flower with either red, yellow, or orange tubular flowers. Wide leaves are held erect, but they eventually die back in winter. Grows best in a location with excellent drainage, full sun, and moist soil.

  • herbaceous perennial to 2'
  • plant in sun, good drainage
  • marginally hardy
  • varies, yellow to red flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot

Antirrhinum siculum
Sicilian Snapdragon

This hardy snapdragon bears fragrant pink flowers with a yellow blotch on the lower lip. Being native to the Mediterranean region, they prefer a sunny, very well-drained soil preferably on a slope.

  • herbaceous perennial to 18"
  • plant in sun
  • pink with yellow flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Aster ageratoides var. scaberulus
Asian aster

This Asian woodland aster makes a spreading clump of sandpaper-textured foliage topped in fall by cheery white daisies. It is quite easy to grow and seems happiest in a bit of shade. Once established, it will tolerate and even thrive in dry shade with just an occasional watering to keep it going during the driest stretches of the year.

  • perennial to 2'
  • plant in part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in late summer-fall
Container size: 3" pot

Brugmansia 'Inca Sun'
hybrid angel's trumpet

A breakthrough hybrid in the world of angel's trumpets. This vigorous selection will start flowering when still under 2' tall (most need to be nearer to 4'). It will also continue to produce its peachy-yellow 10" trumpet flowers all summer long without taking a break. Most angel's trumpets flower, then stop and grow before flowering again while this hybrid grows and flowers at the same time. The fragrance of the large trumpets will enchant you on a summer evening. For full sun and average to rich soil. All Brugmansia love water and fertilizer and will respond to them with increased growth and flowering. 3" potted plants available for shipping.

  • die-back shrub to 8'
  • plant in sun
  • root hardy
  • peachy-yellow flowers in summer up to frost
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
  • fragrant night blooming flowers are 6" wide trumpets
Container size: 1 gal
Brugmansia 'Inca Sun'

Camellia ×vernalis 'Hiryû'
vernal camellia

Crimson-red, single to semi-double flowers. Very hardy shrub for the shade. Evergreen shrub to small tree. One of our favorites.

  • evergreen shrub to 15'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • red flowers in winter
Container size: 3" pot
Camellia ×vernalis 'Hiryû'

Dierama mossii
Compact Angel's Fishing Rod

This is among the smallest of the dieramas, growing to only 2' from a grass-like clump. The wiry flower stems bear pendant flowers of bright pink which tremble in the breeze. Grow in a rich soil in full sun. Dierama are somewhat slow to establish but will be worth the wait once you have a mature clump.

  • herbaceous perennial to 2'
  • plant in sun
  • semi-hardy hardy
  • magenta flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Distylium 'Piidist-V'
Cinnamon Girl isu tree

From the plantsmen at First Editions comes this new distylium with fine foliage on a very compact plant. The leaves emerge plummy-purple before turning blue-green. This is a very hardy form and quite distinct from others on the market. Available for pickup only.

  • evergreen shrub to 3'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • red flowers in winter
Container size: 1 gal

Eurya aff. leptophylla
eurya

Eurya are odd camellia relatives from Asia that have never made their way much into the trade. This tentatively identified species was collected in 2014 by the JCRA in Taiwan. It makes an open evergreen shrub with fine texture and small white flowers along the stems.

  • evergreen shrub to 10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers
Container size: 3" pot

Helwingia japonica
Japanese helwingia

Rare in nature, this attractive and unusual deciduous shrub has been growing in the JCRA Lath House since 2012. In spring, look closely at the tops of its broad leaves, where you will find its tiny green flowers. Fruit production is a little bit tricky since both male and female plants must be grown together. Expect it to reach 5’ tall by 5’ wide when grown in a site with light shade; moist, yet well-drained, humus-rich soil. This Connoisseur Plant is derived from cuttings taken from the plant growing in the JCRA Lath House (MWT09-438) which was collected in 2009 in Taiwan by Mark Weathington.

  • deciduous shrub to 5' × 5'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • light green flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Helwingia japonica

Hydrangea aff. chinensis
Chinese hydrangea

This is a taxonomically perplexing species and there is still very little information available about this hydrangea. Our friends at Far Reaches Farm (Port Townsend, Washington) have been growing one they obtained from Quarryhill Botanic Gardens and say, “In a very few short years, it has insinuated itself into the short list of plants that we would run into a burning greenhouse to grab.” They report it flowers young and has green elliptical leaves that pair nicely with its large corymbs of white fertile flowers, bordered by pure white sterile florets. These plants were propagated from seeds collected in Taiwan in 2014 (MWT14-1029) by Mark Weathington.

  • deciduous shrub to 3'
  • plant in shade
  • white flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot

Illicium floridanum 'Pink Frost'
variegated Florida anise

Anise are among the most deer resistant of evergreen shrubs making this bright foliaged plant a must grow. The mint-green leaves are each bordered by a thin white margin and held on a showy pink petiole. In cool weather, the entire plant becomes a pink beacon. Burgundy spring flowers are showy against the foliage. Available for pickup only.

  • native evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
  • burgundy flowers in spring
  • deer resistant
Container size: 1 gal
Illicium floridanum 'Pink Frost'

Iris spuria subsp. carthaliniae
spuria iris

This iris from the Caucasus makes a tall, vigorous presence in the garden. It prefers a moist soil during active growth, but will tolerate a drier spot after it finishes flowering. Expect tall, blue iris flowers in mid-spring.

  • herbaceous perennial to 3'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • blue flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Magnolia compressa
Taiwan magnolia

We collected this plant with the help of the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute who called it M. compressa var. lanyuense, a dubious name at best. It will make a narrow, evergreen tree with small white flowers stained purple at the base. Plant it in a sheltered spot as it will likely be somewhat tender.

  • evergreen tree to 40'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • semi-hardy tender
  • white flowers in late spring
Container size: 3" pot
Magnolia compressa

Magnolia dawsoniana
magnolia

This choice magnolia is on the IUCN red list as an endangered plant in the wild. It was first brought into cultivation by the great plantsman, Ernest "Chinese" Wilson, in 1908 after discovering it in Sichuan, China. It makes a lovely, mid-sized deciduous tree bearing large (to 10") pink flowers. It is truly an aristocrat of the plant world.

  • flowering tree to 45'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • pink flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Magnolia dawsoniana

Rhododendron
rhododendron

This rhody was collected high on Taipingshan in Taiwan where it formed a large shrub with glossy, pointed foliage. The seed heads were quite large, over 1" long so hopefully the flowers will be large as well. This may be Rhododendron morii which would mean it would have pale pink flowers.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy semi-hardy
  • in spring
Container size: 3" pot

Salvia hierosolymitana
Jerusalem salvia

This lovely herbaceous perennial is native to Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. Jerusalem salvia forms a basal rosette of large, dark green leaves to 18” wide. Wine red to pink flowers with a light fragrance are produced on 2’ stems. It flowers on and off throughout the growing season and seems especially generous in spring and fall. Use it as a ground cover or border plant in a sunny, well-drained location in your garden. These plants were grown from seed the JCRA obtained through 2015 index seminum from Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, Israel.

  • herbaceous perennial to 12'
  • plant in sun
  • wine red to pink flowers in spring-fall
Container size: 3" pot
Salvia hierosolymitana

Salvia lineata
Oaxaca Orange Wooly Sage

This native of southern Mexico's cloud forests grows in the city of Oaxaca. Tiny soft hairs cover the entire plant making it wooly to the touch. Spikes of red-orange flowers bloom from summer into fall. So far, the plants growing at the JCRA have been winter hardy and have reached about 15" tall. It looks best when growing in part shade among other perennials.

  • herbaceous perennial to 18"
  • plant in sun to part sun
  • hardy here
  • red-orange flowers in summer-fall
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly, attracts birds, deer resistant
  • hummingbird magnet
Container size: 3" pot
Salvia lineata

Silene pusilla
alpine catchfly

Alpine catchfly is an ideal rock garden plant from the high meadows and mountain slopes of southern and central Europe, north to the Carpathians. Plants form compact, green cushions 4”–6” tall. In late spring to early summer, they are covered with long-lasting, small, white flowers. We have not grown this before and invite you to trial this one along with us. These plants were grown from seed the JCRA received from the Botanischer Garten zu Kiel,Germany. Plants may require part shade in summer. Keep an eye out for a pink-flowering form that has been reported to occur in the wild.

  • herbaceous perennial to 4"–6"
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • white flowers in late spring-summer
Container size: 3" pot

Stauntonia hexaphylla
Japanese stauntonia

Stauntonia is a large, vigorous evergreen vine with big bold, handsome palmately compound leaves; edible fruit; and fragrant flowers. It is quite beautiful in flower and fruit.

  • evergreen vine to 25'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • light pink flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Stauntonia hexaphylla