This week’s selection is the Genus Portlandia and two relatives of Portlandia, Cubanola and Catesbaea. These small trees have very fragrant flowers which are pollinated by moths. All three are members of the Rubiaceae family which is home to coffee and gardenias.
Portlandia grandiflora (Tree Lily or Bell Flower) has fragrant flowers like its relative, the Gardenia. It is a small tree or shrub from the Caribbean attaining a height of 6-8 feet. It grows best in filtered light and does very well in South Florida’s alkaline soils. It blooms from spring to fall with 6 inch long bell shaped white to pinkish white flowers contrasted against dark green lush fleshy leaves.
Portlandia coccinea var. proctorii (Pink Bell Flower) is endemic to Jamaica and has a similar growth habit to P. grandiflora. However, its leaves and flowers are much smaller and the flower color is pink to red.
Cubanola domingensis (Dominican Bell Flower) is endemic to the Dominican Republic and was once classified in the genus Portlandia. It is a 5 foot shrub and its flowers are long, narrow, and hang straight down in pairs. They are also fragrant like Portlandia, but off-white to almost green in color. This plant thrives in partial shade to full shade.
Catesbaea spinosa (Lily Thorn) is native to the Caribbean basin and grows in full to partial sun and can attain a height of 8 feet. It has a corky bark, very slender, tiny leaves, and with thorny branches. It has 6 inch yellow-white flowers which dangle from the plant. It produces an edible fruit which is slightly tart, but with good flavor. Another member of this genus is C. parviflora which is native to the Florida Keys and is endangered.
Richard Lyons Nursery currently has all of these plants in stock.