Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Syneilesis x hybrida is my favorite plant in the garden this week

My favorite plant this week is a real harbinger of spring for me.

Most people buy plants for their mature look. And this one's pretty cool. So take a look at Syneilesis x hybrida, or Shredded Umbrella Plant in this photo from last summer.

But with this Syneilesis hybrid (a cross between S. aconitifolia and S. palmatum) a big part of its appeal is its bizarre leaf stalks as they emerge.

The fuzzy little knobs break ground in late winter, looking soggy, but seemingly undeterred by our torrential rains.

 As the stalks get taller, the fuzzy, white-green umbrellas begin to unfurl.
Even in high summer, the leaves on mine retain a little of the fuzzy coating that makes it look so unusual in spring.

I bought my first Syneilesis from Collector's Nursery at the Lan Su spring sale in 2010. In 2011 I acquired two more, another S. x hybrida and one S. palmatum. If you look carefully, you can see the S. palmatum on the left has less residual fuzz.
The stats on Syneilesis x hybrida, from Plant Lust:

Zone: 6b - 8b
Size: 18"-24" H
Soil: Well drained, rich
Water: Regular
Exposure: Sun to part shade, with protection from hot afternoon sun
Flowers: Spring, but not the reason to grow this plant

These fuzzy little closed umbrellas let me know that spring is on its way in a strange and lovely way.

I love them now, and I look forward to their woodland charm all through summer. 
I can almost see the fairies seeking shelter under them on a rainy summer day.

Pay a visit to danger garden and look through the comments to see what plants other gardeners are favoring in their gardens this week.


  1. A gorgeous foliage plant. Having seen yours in person, I'm hoping that mine will someday be as beautiful!

  2. What a great plant! I found my patch of four tiny little Syneleisis poking up from the soil yesterday.

  3. I was on the road (trip to Eugene) when you posted on FB that yours were emerging from the soil. I knew mine weren't as I had just been looking the day before. Sure enough when we got home on Sunday there they were! You're right, seeing those little fuzzy nubbins poking up out of the soil means spring is arriving (thank god!), and they look so delicate, as though they will be broken by the rain. Super fav Jane!

  4. And dang, look at that Acanthus, hello? Gorgeous! What a nice border. And yes, looking closely, I do believe I detected a fairy family.

  5. They almost look like mushrooms as they emerge, but the show is only beginning. What a great favorite. I like a lot of plants best when they are just beginning to show themselves. Lysimachia 'Alexander' and certain sedums come to mind.

  6. What an entertaining name for a plant! I love the fuzzy knobs as they first emerge from the soil.


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