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.

2021 Plant Selection

Abutilon 'Voodoo'
flowering maple

A dark-red flowered, sun-loving shrub to 6' tall with maple-like leaves.

  • deciduous shrub to 6'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • red flowers in fall
Container size: 3" pot

Acca sellowiana
pineapple guava

Beautiful evergreen South American shrub with silvery blue-green foliage. Pink flowers with sweet, edible petals in summer. Green fruits in fall taste like tropical fruit (pineapple and guava). Dry to damp soils.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'–8'
  • plant in sun to light shade
  • hardy
  • pink flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Acca sellowiana

Achillea asplenifolia
yarrow

With lovely pink flowers and fragrant leaves that draw pollinators, this yarrow is a wonderful addition to any perennial garden. The prolific flowers lend themselves to use in a bouquet, and if allowed, the plant will naturalize. This is a wild species native to Europe. Unlike the modern hybrids, this wild-type is a tall plant ... to 29" unless pinched. Perfect for a well drained meadow garden or cottage garden or rock garden.

  • herbaceous perennial to 2.5'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • pink flowers in late spring through summer
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly, attracts birds, deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Achillea asplenifolia

Arundo donax 'Golden Chain'
golden variegated giant reed

Gold never looked so good. Golden reed grass makes a restrained clump of tall stems which hold their bright variegation all summer. 'Golden Chain' is a colorful, undemanding, specimen plant. Its gorgeous, golden, variegated color remains constant in our hot summers.

  • grass to 10'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy to zone 7
Container size: 3" pot
Arundo donax 'Golden Chain'

Asphodelus aestivus
asphodel

Dormant in summer and winter, this geophyte produces green foliage in spring followed by 5' tall branched spikes of star-shaped white flowers.

  • lily to 5'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 1 qt
Asphodelus aestivus

Aucuba japonica 'Daisuke's Tiger'
Japanese aucuba

A variegated aucuba selected by Japanese plantsman Daisuke Muramatsu, and named for him by Barry Yinger of Asiatica Nursery. 'Daisuke's Tiger' is mostly gold around the margins and tips and spotted with green while the green centers are speckled with gold. It gives a distinctly different look than the old 'Gold Dust' or 'Crotonifolia' forms. This coloration takes several years to fully develop from a small plant. Tolerates dry shade once established.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in part sun to shade
  • hardy to zone 6
  • burgundy flowers in winter to early spring
Container size: 1 qt
Aucuba japonica 'Daisuke's Tiger'

Aucuba japonica (Lane's sawtooth)
Japanese aucuba

JC Raulston Arboretum friend Layne Snelling saw this unique aucuba arise as a seedling in an abandoned lot and thought it looked good enough to share. Lane's sawtooth is a female with good berry set and strongly serrated leaves.

  • evergreen shrub to 8'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • red fruit in winter
Container size: 3" pot
Aucuba japonica (Lane's sawtooth)

Aucuba japonica 'Linda Eggins'
Japanese aucuba

This Aucuba came from the garden of the U.K. Aucuba collection holder. She told us it was an unnamed seedling but she kept it because it was so good. Very large leaves are heavily spotted and bear some of the largest fruit we've seen on an Aucuba. We named it for this knowledgeable plantswoman.

  • evergreen shrub to 6'
  • plant in shade
  • hardy
  • maroon flowers in late winter
Container size: 1 pt
Aucuba japonica 'Linda Eggins'

Bauhinia grandidieri
blue orchid tree

This Madagascar native small tree is not hardy for us in Raleigh, but it is pretty enough to put into a potted plant or bonsai collection. Tiny leaves and pale blue flowers late in the warm season.

  • deciduous tree to 10'
  • plant in sun
  • tender
  • pale blue flowers in late summer
Container size: 3" pot
Bauhinia grandidieri

Begonia 'Red China'
begonia

A rare hardy begonia with chocolate purple-brown leaves that are bright red on the underside. Also in the trade as U584.

  • herbaceous perennial to 12"
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • colorful leaves
Container size: 3" pot
Begonia 'Red China'

Buddleja 'SMNBDO' (Pugster Periwinkle)
dwarf butterfly bush

Another in the Monrovia series of dwarf butterfly bushes. Pugster Periwinkle has fragrant soft purple flowers (large for such a tiny plant) in summer and a tiny 24" height. Grows best in full sun. Hardy in zones 5–9.

  • deciduous shrub to 24"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • pale purple flowers in summer
  • deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Buddleja 'SMNBDO' (Pugster Periwinkle)

Camellia japonica 'Kifukurin Benikarako'
variegated Japanese camellia

This selection bears dark evergreen leaves highlighted by lighter green margins. The variegation is subtle and elegant so you won't feel like this Camellia is screaming at you across the room. Flowers are a miniature red anemone form and open in late winter to early spring. Sun to shade, zone 7.

  • evergreen shrub to 8'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • red flowers in late winter to early spring
Container size: 1 gal
Camellia japonica 'Kifukurin Benikarako'

Cephalanthus occidentalis 'Just Deserts'
buttonbush

JC Raulston Arboretum director Mark Weathington loves this western U.S. native shrub collected by Pat MacMillan in Coconino county, Arizona. All summer long this deciduous shrub is covered with white, spiky-spheroid flowers that attract pollinators. Phenomenally drought tolerant too. We love it. Despite its warm native habitat, it has been winter hardy for us here in Raleigh since 2018.

  • deciduous shrub to 4'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in all summer
Container size: 3" pot

Chrysophila stauracantha
rootspine palm

For all you palm tree lovers comes this medium sized native of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Not hardy for us in Raleigh, this will make a nice pool-side potted plant and sun room house plant. A slim trunk and large costapalmate leaves that are silver on the bottom. Watch your fingers! Mature specimens produce 4" long spines along the trunk to deter herbivores. It flowers with a 3' long densely packed white flower cluster that turns in to a cluster of small white fruit. Grow best in part-sun.

  • palm tree to 30'
  • plant in part sun
  • tender
  • white flowers
Container size: 3" pot
Chrysophila stauracantha

Cypella coelestis
goblet flower

This curious iris relative fools most people into thinking it is a palm seedling due to its pleated blue-green leaves. However, despite this demure beginning, stand back because in summer, each 24" tall plant is crowned with a festival of blue flowers. This goblet flower will change the way you think about bulbs, and irises in particular.

  • herbaceous perennial to 24"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • blue flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Cypella coelestis

Daphne genkwa
lilac daphne

A deciduous daphne which is loaded in early spring with masses of fragrant lilac flowers. It makes an upright small shrub for sun to shade.

  • deciduous shrub to 3'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • lilac flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Daphne genkwa

Daphniphyllum macropodum
daphniphyllum

An outstanding broad-leaved evergreen Asian tree with handsome foliage to 6" to 8" in length and blue fruit in panicles in the fall and winter. USDA zone 6 and will grow in full sun or moderate shade.

  • evergreen tree to 25'
  • plant in sun to shade
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Daphniphyllum macropodum

Distylium racemosum (white margin)
isu tree

A terrific landscape plant since it's evergreen, compact, disease and insect resistant, and heat and drought tolerant. While the spring flowers have a five-part, red, downy outer structure and vivid purple stamens, they have no petals.

  • large shrub to small tree to 15'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy
  • burgundy to purple flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Distylium racemosum (white margin)

Eleutherococcus lasiogyne
false aralia

Eleutherococcus lasiogyne is a deciduous shrub or small tree with sparse prickles on the stem and a rounded crown ... up to 30' tall and wide. In its native China, it is a tough, easy to grow plant used primarily as an herbal tonic/stimulant, but they also grow it as an ornamental from time to time due to its form and white summer flowers that are clustered at the tips of the branches into a spiky sphere. This species is related to the more widely known herb E. senticosus (Siberian ginseng) which is a well known tonic herb. It is also known as Acanthopanax lasiogyne. There is no English common name for this plant. The Chinese common name kang ding wu jia refers to a king named Kang Ding plus the Chinese word for Eleutherococcus ... King Kang Ding Eleutherococcus.

  • deciduous shrub to 15'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • semi-hardy
  • white flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot
Eleutherococcus lasiogyne

Enkianthus campanulatus var. palibinii
redvein enkianthus

A deciduous shrub with orange to red fall foliage. Small, red-veined, bell-shaped flowers dangle down in clusters from the branches in spring.

  • deciduous shrub to 10'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
Container size: 3" pot
Enkianthus campanulatus var. palibinii

Fatsia japonica (ex. 'Sparky')
Japanese fatsia

Seedlings of our own selection of Fatsia japonica. An evergreen shrub with large hand-like leaves and spiky white flowers in fall. Followed by black berries.

  • evergreen shrub to 8'
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy to zone 7b
  • white flowers in fall
Container size: 3" pot
Fatsia japonica (ex. 'Sparky')

Fuchsia hatschbachii
fuchsia

Remarkable for its prolific production of small red flowers with dark purple corollas and extending stamens. While fuchsia prefer protection from afternoon sun, they bloom more prolifically when provided with sun other times of the day.

  • herbaceous perennial to 4'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • red flowers in spring and summer
Container size: 3" pot
Fuchsia hatschbachii

Gaussia gomez-pompae
Gomez-Pompa palm

This 30' to 40' tall solitary palm from Mexico grows on relatively skinny trunks in gravely, limestone soils. Likely not hardy except in the Deep South. The specific epithet commemorates Arturo Gómez-Pompa, D.Sc., one of the greatest advocates for conservation in Mexico and an expert in tropical ecology. Sun.

  • palm tree to 30'
  • plant in sun
  • tender
Container size: 3" pot
Gaussia gomez-pompae

Hosta 'Contortionist'
plantain lily

A Plant Delights Nursery Introduction (2020). A dwarf hosta just 8" tall with tons of small green leaves that are undulated along the edge and whose tip comes to a twisting point. Lavender flowers.

  • herbaceous perennial to 8"
  • plant in part sun
  • hardy to zone 3
  • lavender flowers in summer
Container size: 2 qt

Mahonia (oiwakensis hybrid)

Open pollinated (and likely hybrid) seedlings of a graceful, upright, architectural plant that displays glossy, blue-green compound leaves that can extend to almost 2'. Bright yellow flower spikes top stems from late fall into winter.

Container size: 3" pot
Mahonia (oiwakensis hybrid)

Ocimum labiatum
shell bush

This mint relative is from southern Africa (South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe) and is a root hardy perennial here but is a woody shrub in climates where winter stays above 25°F. It features soft heart-shaped leaves that have a slightly minty scent. In summer, it produces spikes of salvia-esque pastel pink flowers over a long period. Drought tolerant and great for a rock garden.

  • semi-woody perennial to 12"–24"
  • plant in sun
  • semi-hardy
  • pinkish-mauve flowers in late summer–fall
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly and deer resistant
Container size: 3" pot
Ocimum labiatum

Passiflora 'Lady Margaret'
passion flower

A hybrid passion vine with red flowers and a bright white spot in the center. Evergreen in warmer climates, this is a die-back vine here in North Carolina that grows to 10' tall each season. Peak bloom is in late summer. Prefers lean soil that stays on the dry side. A host plant for Gulf fritillary, zebra longwings, and other Heliconian butterfly caterpillars so if you see a caterpillar munching on the plant, leave it alone. Full sun.

  • herbaceous vine here to climbs 10'
  • plant in sun
  • root hardy
  • raspberry red flowers in all summer long
  • butterfly/pollinator friendly
  • supports Gulf fritillary and Julia caterpillars
Container size: 3" pot
Passiflora 'Lady Margaret'

Pittosporum aff. truncatum
truncated pittosporum

We have been impressed with the toughness and cold-hardiness of this species, having been in the garden at the JCRA since 1994. Expect a medium-sized mounding shrub, bearing glossy, somewhat thickened, evergreen leaves, and small, tubular, but sweetly scented pale yellow flowers in spring.

  • evergreen shrub to 4'–8'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • yellow flowers in late spring–summer
  • red berries fruit
Container size: 1 pt
Pittosporum aff. truncatum

Rhodoleia henryi 'Takeshitasei'
evergreen rose hazel

The evergreen witch hazel relatives Rhodoleia are among the hottest of plants now. They can be a bit tender, but this species has survived with little to no damage at the JC Raulston Arboretum for the last few winters, and this selection has been the hardiest. 2" to 3" hot pink/fuchsia flowers in late winter are showy enough to be mistaken for a Camellia at a distance. Glossy, rounded foliage is attractive enough to grow on its own.

  • evergreen shrub to 12'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • semi-hardy
  • fuchsia flowers in late winter
Container size: 3" pot
Rhodoleia henryi 'Takeshitasei'

Ruprechtia salicifolia
viraró

This dioecious deciduous tree from South America grows to 15' to 30' with narrow, glossy green leaves on somewhat contorted branches and in spring produces clusters of greenish white (male) or pinkish white (female) flowers all along the stem. Its rot resistant wood is sometimes used in boats and furniture but it dulls saw blades with its high silica content. Hardy to zone 9 so it is tender here in Raleigh. Its common name viraró is Spanish for veered, relating to its contorted shape.

  • deciduous tree to 15'–30'
  • plant in sun
  • semi-hardy
  • cream flowers
Container size: 3" pot
Ruprechtia salicifolia

Spiraea crenata
scalloped spirea

A rare, one-of-a-kind offering, indeed. These plants were propagated from specimens collected (as cuttings) in 2001 from Asia at the Kazbegi Ecological Center, Nation of Georgia by Todd Lasseigne while he was JCRA assistant director. It has dainty, small, deciduous leaves on arching branches, clusters of white flowers, and orange-red fall color. After five years, it is 5' tall and 6' wide. Its native range is from southeast Europe, east to the Caucasus and Altai Mountains. It grows on open stony slopes and in shrubbery within the steppen and forest-steppen zones.

  • deciduous shrub to 5' × 6'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Spiraea crenata

Stewartia rostrata
Chinese stewartia

Stewartia are among the royalty of small flowering trees for the garden and should be more widely grown. This species bears small, white flowers surrounded by reddish bracts in spring. Fall color on the foliage is often brilliant and with age the bark becomes a medley of soft colors. In habit, it is an upright plant with a relatively narrow crown allowing it to fit well even into smaller gardens.

  • deciduous tree to 15'
  • plant in sun to part shade
  • hardy
  • white flowers in spring
Container size: 3" pot
Stewartia rostrata

Strobilanthes hamiltoniana
Chinese rain bell

Relative to the well-known annual called Persian Shield, this plant looks nothing like its cousin. This is a tall dieback shrub with prominently veined green leaves and long stems, arching at the tip with tubular purple flowers from late fall until hard freeze. Prefers moist soils. We are told this is hardy to at least zone 8, perhaps colder.

  • dieback shrub to 4'
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • pinkish-purple flowers in late fall–early winter
Container size: 3" pot
Strobilanthes hamiltoniana

Zephyranthes 'Ajax'
rain lily

A little rain lily with pale yellow flowers in summer.

  • herbaceous perennial to 8"
  • plant in sun
  • hardy
  • pale yellow flowers in summer
Container size: 3" pot