Lottah Nursery Tasmania, Australia

Daphne arbuscula

Syn. 'Muran Daphne'

First described by Celakovsky in 1890, it is now listed in the IUCN Red Data Book as an endangered species.

This is one of the most desirable of daphnes, too seldom encountered in gardens or nurseries in Australia; it is fiddly to propagate, and the slow growth makes it uneconomical to produce for the limited market.

arbuscula is a slow growing evergreen semi-prostrate shrub of 200 mm or so height but spreading to a metre under ideal conditions after many years. Our potted plant in the greenhouse stands 200 mm high and over 400 mm across after 8 years, with prostrate growth cascading over the sides to the ground.

Described by Brickell & Matthew as "one of the most sought-after and beautiful of Daphne species", it originates from a small area of the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia in limestone country. An article in the Rock Garden Quarterly 54:4, 1996 referred to this gem: "Daphne arbuscula is classified among the most vulnerable of rare and endemic species of Slovakia."

Flowers on our greenhouse specimen are a beautiful rose-pink 15 mm across in terminal clusters of up to 10 florets with the main flush in mid-October, 3 months after odora starts flowering; there is a secondary, almost continuous flowering from December extending into May in the greenhouse. Perianth tube is of the same color, 15 long by 2 mm. Leaves are deep green, 18x3.5 mm of linear shape with obtuse tips, providing attraction when the plant is not in flower. The fragrance is near overwhelming, in our opinion surpassing that of odora or bholua.

Over the past many years we have considered this plant to be too precious to be exposed to the vagaries of the weather, and have kept it potted in the greenhouse where we often lift it to savour the fragrance. Since this is a prostrate plant it would be an excellent idea to grow it in a position that does not require crouching on the ground to enjoy it fully.

Josef Halda is quoted on the existence of several variant forms including those sporting white flowers, and White provides images of several in his recent book.

Highly recommended for knowledgeable growers.

References:
Brickell, C D and Matthew, B, Daphne: The Genus in the Wild and in Cultivation, ISBN 0900048239
White, R, Daphnes: A Practical Guide for Gardeners, ISBN 088192752X

(click on thumbnails for larger images)

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Daphne arbuscula in flower
Daphne arbuscula detail

60225-4589 (2, 3, 10, 294)