Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Lyonothamnus Floribundus Ssp Asplenifolius

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Lyonothamnus asplenifolius (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to light shade

Flowering period: Spring to summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 17m

Eventual Spread: 8m

Hardiness: 8b – 10b

Family: Rosaceae

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius is a fast growing, upright evergreen tree with an open canopy. Its mid green leaves are up to 5 palmately compound, its individual leaflets are long, flat, narrow with jagged edges. Its mature gray bark is fibrous and sheds to reveal red new bark. Its white flowers have yellow center and appear in terminal clusters which are up to 20cm across. Its fruit is an 8mm long woody capsule.

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius, commonly known as the Catalinia Ironwood, Fern-Leaved Ironwood or Santa Cruz Island Ironwood, is native to the Californian Islands. In its native habitat it grows on rock slopes, canyons and Oak woodlands.

Lyonothamnus asplenifolius Bark (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius Bark (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Lyonothamnus is a combination of  the name of William Scrugham Lyon (1851 – 1916) and the Greek word thamnos meaning ‘shrub’. Floribundus is derived from the Latin florida ‘meaning many flowers’. Asplenifolius is derived from the Latin name Asplenium (a type of fern), and folius meaning ‘leaf’.

The landscape architect may find Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius useful as a free flowering, upright tree with an open habit and unusual leaves. Once established this tree is drought tolerant. Young trees should be given adequate protection from deers.

Ecologically, Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius flowers are attractive to pollinating insects and nectar loving birds.

Lyonothamnus asplenifolius Bark (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius Bark (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate wet soils.

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius requires little maintenance. This tree may be rejuvenated by stooling or pollarding.


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