There are certain plants that are full of interest most of the year but they usually have powerful peaks. Such a plant is Clerodendrum trichotoma var fargesii, which we grow in our spring border. It is one of those plants with lots going for it and to recommend itself to us gardeners.
With those fun words as part of their names these plants have to be special. But what are they? Clerodendrons. This is a species that is represented in our gardens by just a few varieties even though there are about 150 different ones known in the wild, mostly from China and Japan, and they have been in cultivation in Europe for over 250 years. Some can be grown in conservatories and under glass when heated, but Clerodendron bungei and C. trichotomum are the only two reliable for our gardens.
We grow both and enjoy them in several seasons as they have so much to offer. They have interesting foliage, the colours of which vary with the seasons, fine flowers of interesting structure and colours and startling coloured fruits, which all means they have a long season of interest.
The first three photos are of C. trichotomum.
Clerodendron bungei, below, is said by some to smell of peanut butter but by others as smelling of rancid peanut butter or even drains. Perhaps not its best feature!
And what about those two words, bungei and trichotomum? Where do they come from?
Bungei relates to a C19 Russian botanist, Dr Alexander von Bunge and trichotomum means “three branches” but I can’t work out exactly why it is called that.