Shoot That Poison Arrow Through My Heart - Strophanthus speciosus

 |Strophanthus speciosus floral detail|

|Strophanthus speciosus floral detail|

As the saying goes, love is a many splendored thing.  On a recent walk I fell victim to my theory that so many of us tend to walk around our world with blinders on.  There is a place that I walk by on occasion that is bordered by a dense, leafy green shrub. Handsome as its leathery, rich green foliage can be  I've never really paid that much attention to it.  Never really thought to stop and check it out...that is until recently. So unassuming and then suddenly this.  Flowers that look as though they come from the fantastical land of Oz.  May I introduce Strophanthus speciosus commonly known in some parts of the world as Corkscrew Flower.  It is a bushy shrub from South Africa that tends to roam and ramble from wherever it's planted.  In spring, at the ends of its branches, it produces these amazingly unique starfish-supernova-like flowers with wispy, dreamy creamy yellow petals that corkscrew outward from vibrantly vivid candy cane colored throats.  The beauty doesn't stop there.  The flowers emit a passionate perfume with fresh notes of magnolia, mellow lemon, rose, and a touch of seductive spice.  You might as well surrender to it now!

 |Strophanthus speciosus foliage + flower + form|

|Strophanthus speciosus foliage + flower + form|

Strophanthus speciosus is what I consider an 'Adult' category plant.  It's one of those plants that I would suggest should be grown responsibly.  Primary reason is that parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.  It is said the toxins in the seeds are used to tip poison arrows.  Alternatively, theses same toxins are used to create medications for treating snakebites and heart failure.

As a garden plant, Strophanthus speciosus can be trained into a sophisticated screening hedge or left to grow into a wild and woolly thicket.  Grow it in the ground or a container.  Ideally, it can grow to be 10 feet tall and wide.  If unsupervised it can grow and spread much larger.  It likes full sun, fertile, well-draing soil, regular water, and is hardy down to around 35 degrees fahrenheit/2 degrees celsius.  It can also go deciduous during dry or cooler periods.  Pruning it occasionally will keep it in check as well as give it a stylishly lush look.  This will encourage more branching which will result in an abundant output of unforgettably unusual fragrant flowers and believe me the flowers are where it's at!