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Products > Azara microphylla
Azara microphylla - Boxleaf Azara

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Flacourtiaceae
Origin: Chile (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Cream
Bloomtime: Winter/Spring
Height: 15-25 feet
Width: 8-10 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: <15 F
Azara microphylla (Boxleaf Azara) - A dainty small upright large evergreen bush or small tree to 15-25 feet tall with a fountain-like shape and arching branches hold zig zagging (herringbone) branchlets bearing what appears to be small leaves in unequal pairs but one is actually a small rounded stipule while the other is a true leaf that is 1/4 to 1/2 inch long oval in shape and glossy green. In late winter to early spring the tiny petal-less yellow staminal flowers exude a fragrance that smells of chocolate to some, or vanilla to others. Flowers are sometimes followed in summer by orange-red berries. Azara grows best in cooler coastal gardens as it suffers in inland hot locations. Plant in full sun (coastal) to light shade in a well-drained soil and give regular irrigation. Responds well to pruning and can be shaped to fit most any garden's needs. Hardy to around 10 F and useful in USDA Zone 8 and above. This plant is a very nice and interesting sculptural plant that seems to excel in cooler coastal central California north into gardens in the Pacific Northwest. It is native to Chile and southern Argentina on both sides of the Andes, where it typically is found in the forest understory. The name for the genus is thought to honor the Spanish naturalist Felix de Azara and the specific epithet comes from Latin words 'micro', meaning "tiny" and 'phylla' meaning "leaf" in reference to leaf size. It was first described by Joseph Hooker in 1845 in his Flora Antarctica and was listed as early as 1872 in the famous Veitch Nursery catalog in England and may have reached North America around this time as well. Harry Butterfield in his Dates of Introduction of Trees and Shrubs to California documents it first being sold in California in 1900 by the California Nursery Company in what is now Fremont, California. It was previously put in the Flacourtia family, Flacourtiaceae, with such other interesting plants as Olmediella, Dovyalis and Xylosma, but now these all are placed in the Willow family, the Salicaceae. We have nice plants of Azara microphylla in Santa Barbara in Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden and also at Ganna Walska Lotusland Botanic Garden, where the pictures on this page were taken.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Azara microphylla.