Thursday, March 4, 2010

A winter Chilean treasure

While we read or watch the coverage of the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile (and its multiple aftershocks), I am reminded of the many botanical treasures this country has given us. In the winter landscape, one plant that often gets overlooked (if people even know what it is!) is the airy Azara microphylla.

Azara microphylla

Doesn't look all that flashy and exciting, does it? Well, if you were a plant nut, you'd appreciate it's deep green, glossy foliage. It is evergreen and the texture it can add to any landscape is much sought after as it makes an exceptional upright background plant. The draw to the casual gardener or anyone who happens to encounter this plant in late winter are the almost inconspicuous, axillary flowers that permeate the air with a mouthwatering aroma of vanilla and white chocolate. SERIOUSLY! Come to my garden and smell them! hahah

For something similar, but flashier, a variegated form does exist! =P



  1. I have five Azara microphylla that I planted in 2004 and haven't bloomed once! I wonder what the problem could be?

    But then, I've never seen the Azara at the Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden bloom either. What is your secret?

  2. That's the thing with Azara microphylla; you hardly see the flowers! How old are your trees?
    They take a few years to get large enough to flower. I got mine at the arboretum in a one gallon pot about 3 or 4 years ago. It was about 2-3 feet tall, upright and kind of leggy. It just started blooming this winter.

    On mature trees, you'll usually see a mist of yellow when in bloom. Often it's just the smell in the air is when I know this plant is blooming.

    I've found it odd, but many of the Azara I've seen have been growing on the NORTH side of the house where it doesn't get hot baking sun. I wonder if that has anything to do with its performance.


  3. Hi, Riz--Rebecca here.

    I have mine in a spot that gets sun for about half the day. It's flowered since its first year, but as you say, the flowers are subtle!

    Any experience with Azara serrata?

  4. I'm so glad you posted this photo! I got my Azara from the Arboretum a couple years ago as well, and I never even thought to look for flowers! Just went out and I'm happy to report that it, too, has flowered and has a wonderful scent if I get up close. Very, very nice. Thanks, Riz.

  5. No experience with A. serrata. Never heard of it, actually. Lemme see if Dan talks about it in his book!

    Thanks for reading the blog, y'all!