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.

2019 Plant Selection

Acer oblongum
flying moth maple

This attractive, fast-growing, medium sized (20'–50') tree was grown from seed collected by JCRA director Mark Weathington and others on his trip to Fujian, Sha'anxi and Gansu provinces in China. Despite its huge native range (Nepal all the way east to central China), little is known about this maple in the United States. Although European books indicate that this species is evergreen and tender (Zone 9), it has been decidedly deciduous for us, even bearing blazing red fall color in 1998 (but never since) and has never suffered any cold damage in typical zone 7 winters. Smoothleaf maple bears attractive sage-green to lustrous, dark green leaves throughout the summer, these being glaucous white underneath. The bark is smooth and striated, making for a most attractive tree.

  • deciduous tree to 20'–50'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Acer oblongum

Adiantum caudatum
walking maidenhair fern

Called the walking maidenhair fern because the attractive, narrow, arching fronds root into the ground wherever they touch. This fern spreads to form a colony that stays evergreen during mild winters. A very beautiful thing.

  • mostly evergreen fern to 6"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Adiantum caudatum

Agave 'Bluebell Giants'
century plant

A hybrid cross of Agave ×protamericana and Agave ×pseudoferox 'Bellville' made at Plant Delights Nursery in 2014. These are fast-growing, large agaves with blue-tinged foliage and upturned tips. Plant Delights Nursery expects these might reach 7' in height by 12' wide. Stand back.

  • evergreen perennial to 7' × 12'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot

Agave victoriae-reginae 'Bustamonte'
Queen Victoria century plant

This Agave victoriae-reginae selection was grown from seed collected at the northernmost natural stand of A. victoriae-reginae in the town of Bustamonte in Neuvo Leon, Mexico. Queen Victoria agave is a solitary plant, making a single rosette. This seed strain has longer leaves than A. victoriae-reginae, but the same white markings on the leaves. A most handsome architectural masterpiece and only about 1' tall by 2' wide.

  • succulent evergreen perennial to 1'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot

Baptisia 'Royal Candles'

A Plant Delights Nursery introduction from 2015 featuring tall purple flowers on purple spikes.

Container size: 3" pot

Begonia aff. palmata

Collected by plant explorer Ozzie Johnson in 2012 on a trip to northeastern India (Arunachal Pradesh). Leaves are variegated burgundy and green. Winter mulch suggested.

  • herbaceous perennial to 16"
  • plant in shade
  • semi-hardy
Container size: 3" pot

Begonia aff. pedatifida
hardy begonia

Collected by JCRA director Mark Weathington during his 2014 plant hunting expedition to China (MWC14-1092). This has proven to be reliably winter hardy here at the Arboretum. It tends to come into growth during mild spells in mid to late winter, yet is not set back by losing its new growth. it will promptly regrow come spring. It makes a 2' to 3' clump of handsome bold foliage.

  • herbaceous perennial to 18"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
Container size: 1 pt

Berberis wilsoniae var. subcaulialata
Mrs. Wilson's barberry

A 3' to 4' tall, spiny shrub with grey-blue foliage on narrow, arching branches and attractive yellow flowers in summer. In autumn the evergreen foliage turns reddish and small red berries appear.

  • shrub to 3'–4'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in early to midsummer
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot

Camellia japonica 'Tafuku-benten'
variegated Japanese camellia

A rare camellia with lightly variegated foliage, green splashed with yellow. The flowers are typically bicolor: light red with a white edge, but can also be solid red or solid white. Flowers in midwinter through early spring. It's compact growing.

  • evergreen shrub
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • light red and white flowers in early spring
Container size: 3" pot
Camellia japonica 'Tafuku-benten'

Carex radiata 'Halifax'
eastern star sedge

A North Carolina native plant that is perfect as an understory grass-like ground cover. 'Halifax' is from a specimen collected in Halifax County.

  • herbaceous perennial to 8"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • green flowers in spring
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Carex radiata 'Halifax'

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Special Variegated'
variegated Hinoki falsecypress

The lacy foliage is heavily variegated with splashes of cream. Open habit.

  • conifer to 8'–12'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Special Variegated'

Chlorophytum orchidastrum
Sierra Leone lily

Normally used as a houseplant or shade-loving patio plant, this foliage plant features bright orange leaf petioles.

  • herbaceous to 2'
  • plant in shade
  • tender
  • easy, showy houseplant
Container size: 3" pot

Coniogramme emeiensis 'Golden Zebra'
bamboo fern

A medium textured fern with small yellow bands on the fronds. Spreads slowly to form a nice clump

  • semi-evergreen fern to 24"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
  • yellow banding on the fronds
Container size: 3" pot
Coniogramme emeiensis 'Golden Zebra'

Ctenitis subglandulosa

An evergreen Asian fern with attractive bipinnate fronds. In case you were wondering, the C in Ctenitis is silent, pronounced so that it sounds a bit like tennis and tinnitus combined.

  • evergreen fern to 1'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Ctenitis subglandulosa

Cupressus vietnamensis
Vietnam golden cypress

This super-rare, critically endangered conifer (also known as Xanthocyparis vietnamensis) was only described in the last decade and has been impossible to procure. The parent plant growing in Dan Hinkley's garden makes a spectacular, symmetric cone of dense foliage. This is your only chance to get your hands on this beautiful but rare species.

  • evergreen conifer to 12'–25'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Cupressus vietnamensis

Deparia lobato-crenata
Japanese sword fern

A deciduous Japanese fern that slowly spreads into a small patch. Narrow fronds are slightly glossy.

  • deciduous fern to 18"
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Deparia lobato-crenata

Disporum trabeculatum
rigid Solomon's seal

A Vietnamese woodland perennial with arching stems. Small white flowers in spring. The stoloniferous plants will colonize an area in a gentle way.

  • upright herbaceous perennial to 15"
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 1 qt
Disporum trabeculatum

Helwingia omeiensis
Mt. Emei helwingia

We collected this dogwood relative (MWC14-1118) at the Mt. Emei Botanical Garden on the slopes of the famed mountain in 2014. It was an exceptionally glossy form compared to the more matte leafed ones growing around it. Helwingia are known for the unusual property of the flowers and fruit growing from the center of the leaf. This species bears a starburst cluster of small flowers opening from reddish buds. Assuming both a male and female plant are around, red fruits follow on the female plants.

  • deciduous shrub to 8'
  • plant in shade
  • reddish-green flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Helwingia omeiensis

Hosta 'Age of Gold'
hosta

A medium to large hosta with golden leaves and a corrugated surface.

  • herbaceous perennial to 24"
  • plant in part sun to shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in early summer
Container size: 3 qt

Machilus

Another 2017 Gansu Province, China, seed collection. "Tree to 35’, plants evergreen, oblong,entire, glossy green foliage. Black fruit to .25” diameter held on showy red pedicels. Growing along rocky riverbank. Single plant." Machilus is closely related to the genus Persea (avocado) and is in the laurel family, Lauraceae.

  • evergreen tree to 35'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • zone 7 (?) semi-hardy
  • black fruit in fall
Container size: 3" pot

Mahonia japonica
Japanese mahonia

Japanese mahonia features spreading to pendant fragrant yellow flowers on top of tiered evergreen leaves that may turn reddish hues in the winter. The foliage is gorgeous, broad, and lush; very handsome architectural plant. Attracts birds but does not attract deer and rabbits.

  • evergreen shrub to 5'–7'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • fragrant yellow flowers in winter
  • blue-black fruit in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Mahonia japonica

Mahonia ×lindsayae 'Cantab'
fragrant mahonia

Mahonia 'Cantab' comes to the United States from the garden of La Serre de la Madone in France where it arose as a natural hybrid between M. japonica and M. siamensis. M. 'Cantab' is one of the most fragrant mahonias with a scent described as a cross between lily-of-the-valley and hyacinth. Yellow flowers are held on drooping racemes among the arching stems.

  • woody everygreen to 6'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • fragrant, yellow flowers in late fall–early winter
  • deer resistant
Container size: 1 gal
Mahonia ×lindsayae 'Cantab'

Microlepia strigosa f. crispa 'Shishi'
lion's mane fern

An evergreen fern (above 10°F) with with lacy, congested fronds that are both crested and frilled. It's rate of spread is moderate and is hardy to zone 7a.

  • semi-evergreen fern to 18"
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Microlepia strigosa f. crispa 'Shishi'

Musella lasiocarpa
hardy Chinese yellow banana

A small banana relative with yellow lotus-like flowers in the summer. Bold foliage is glaucous blue-green In mild winters, pseudostems often overwinter. In the southern end of its range, you might also get small 2" bananas that while technically edible, are mostly seeds.

  • herbaceous perennial to 5'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in summer
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3 qt
Musella lasiocarpa

Notocactus submammulosus
sub-nippled hardy notocactus

A short globose cactus with bright yellow flowers in spring. Sharp drainage is needed to prevent rotting. A great rock garden plant.

  • spiny globe shaped cactus to 3.5"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy, zone 7b
  • large, yellow flowers in April–May
  • winter-hardy in zone 7b. Extremely drought tolerant
Container size: 1 qt
Notocactus submammulosus

Parrotia persica 'Persian Lace'
variagated Persian ironwood

A rare variegated tree with splashes of white and cream on the green leaves. New leaves emerge pinkish. An excellent small tree that can be either single or multi-trunked. Fall foliage is yellow, orange, and red. and in winter, the smooth bark exfoliates leaving a series of green, white, and tan patches for winter interest.

  • deciduous tree to 25'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • red flowers in winter
  • beautiful variegated foliage
Container size: 3" pot
Parrotia persica 'Persian Lace'

Passiflora 'Inspiration'
purple passion flower

Not as rampant as the native passion vine, 'Inspiration' has attractive purple flowers. Growing to 10' in a single season, it dies back to the ground each winter. Triploid so no viable seeds are produced.

  • herbaceous vine to climbs 10'
  • plant in sun
  • root hardy
  • violet flowers in all summer long
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
  • supports Gulf fritillary and Julia butterflies
Container size: 3" pot
Passiflora 'Inspiration'

Podocarpus acutifolius
needle-leaved totara

Needle-leaved totara is native to New Zealand and can reach up to 30' tall in its native habitat. Here, it is more of a shrub or small tree. Its leaves are straight, narrow, and needle pointed. They are green in shaded settings but yellow-green in open areas often turning orange-brown in winter.

  • evergreen shrub to 4'–6' in 10 years
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Podocarpus acutifolius

Rosa 'Paul's Himalayan Musk'
rambling rose

'Paul's Himalayan Musk' is a rambling vining rose that climbs to 30'. The pale pink flower clusters are rosette-shaped and small at just 1", but numerous. They are also fragrant with a musky scent. In the fall, you will find small red-orange hips. A past winner of the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

  • vine to 30'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • pale pink, fading to white flowers in late spring
  • red fruit in fall
  • attracts birds
Container size: 1 gal
Rosa 'Paul's Himalayan Musk'

Sassafras tzumu
Chinese sassafras

One of two species of Chinese sassafras, it is a counterpart to the North American Sassafras albidum. It is rarely available in this country. It differs in being a large single-trunked canopy tree, unlike our native sassafras which is a suckering, thicket-forming small tree. This was grown from seed from the plant in JCRA on the north side of the McSwain C. McSwain Education Center. We find it quite showy in its spring display of yellow flowers. The wood is high quality and the roots and bark are used medicinally in China.

  • deciduous tree to 35' in 10 years
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in Feb.-March
  • blue-black fruit in late summer
  • very rare
Container size: 3" pot
Sassafras tzumu

Sycopsis sinensis 'PsyOps'
Chinese fighazel

This rare witchhazel relative is evergreen with late winter flowers of petalless red stamens … a joy on a cold February day. Red, petalless flowers appear in mid to late winter creating an interesting effect when little else is flowering. This is a narrow leaf form. the leaves are about 2" to 3" long and 1/2" wide, making for a very interesting textural habit

Container size: 3" pot
Sycopsis sinensis 'PsyOps'

Thuja occidentalis 'Unicorn'
American arborvitae

A slow-growing cultivar with an upright, very narrow, columnar habit.

  • conifer shrub to 12'–15' × 6"–8"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • very narrow columnar habit
Container size: 3" pot
Thuja occidentalis 'Unicorn'

Viburnum orientale
oriental viburnum

A medium-sized shrub with flattened cymes of white flowers in late spring. In fall, the foliage turns golden yellow around the same time as the clusters of red fruit appear.

  • deciduous shrub to 8'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
  • red fruit in fall
  • attracts birds
Container size: 3" pot
Viburnum orientale

Zantedeschia aethiopica 'African Gold'
variegated calla lily

A white-flowered calla lily with yellow striping on some of the leaves. The yellow striping is virus-induced and often fades late in the season. Z. aethiopica is a cool season calla that grows and flowers best in spring and fall … resting in the summer.

  • herbaceous perennial to 2'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring and fall
  • deer resistant
Container size: 1 qt