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Myrtle-leafed distylium Distylium racemosum

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
dis-STY-lee-um ray-see-MO-sum
Description

An evergreen large shrub or small tree in the witch hazel family.  In its natural habitat, it typically grows in evergreen oak forests at elevations above 3000'.  For optimum health, plant in an area that is sheltered from strong cold winds. The shrubs prefer a half-shady situation on moist soil with a sandy loam substrate.

Distylium hybrids are becoming a popular landscape plant due to the fact that they are evergreen, compact, disease and insect-resistant, and heat and drought-tolerant.  They also need little pruning.  

There are no petals on the flowers.  Each has a five-parted, red, downy outer structure and several vivid purple stamens.  

In its native locations, this specimen has grown to heights of 60' and is considered valuable for its wood content which is very hard and a dark color.   Grown out of its native areas, it will typically grow to a maximum height of 10-15' in height. Use this plant in a shrub border, as screening, in a woodland setting or foundation planting.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  This plant has no major insect or disease issues.

More information on Distylium.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Akebono'
    Creamy-white new shoots mature to green.
  • 'Blue Cascade'
    Dense, compact. Blue-green foliage.
  • 'Guppy'
    Compact habit, small leaves
  • 'Ogisu'
    The leaves have white margins.
  • 'Spring Frost'
  • 'Variegatum'
    Narrow, deformed with irregular margin.
'Akebono', 'Blue Cascade', 'Guppy', 'Ogisu', 'Spring Frost', 'Variegatum'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#hedges#large shrub#deer resistant#glossy leaves#foundation planting#screening#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#evergreen shrub#flowers early summer#woodland garden#part shade
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Akebono'
    Creamy-white new shoots mature to green.
  • 'Blue Cascade'
    Dense, compact. Blue-green foliage.
  • 'Guppy'
    Compact habit, small leaves
  • 'Ogisu'
    The leaves have white margins.
  • 'Spring Frost'
  • 'Variegatum'
    Narrow, deformed with irregular margin.
'Akebono', 'Blue Cascade', 'Guppy', 'Ogisu', 'Spring Frost', 'Variegatum'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#hedges#large shrub#deer resistant#glossy leaves#foundation planting#screening#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#evergreen shrub#flowers early summer#woodland garden#part shade
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Distylium
    Species:
    racemosum
    Family:
    Hamamelidaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    This wood is used for making musical instruments.  The ashes from the wood are used in porcelain glazing.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Japan
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Textural
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-stemmed
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    A two-beaked woody capsule with brown star-shaped hairs following flowering contains oval seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Petalless flowers with red calyces and purple stamens form racemes in leaf axils in the late spring to early summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leathery and glossy dark green simple leaves with entire margins and cuneate base and 5-6 veins. Lighter green below. Shape is elliptic or obovate-elliptic.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Bark Description:
    Medium brown bark
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Rigid, short branches with star-shaped hairs. Older branches dark brown and hairless.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Design Feature:
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy