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Products > Colletia paradoxa
Colletia paradoxa - Anchor Plant

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorns)
Origin: South America
Flower Color: Cream
Bloomtime: Fall
Synonyms: [Colletia cruciata]
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Colletia paradoxa (Anchor Plant) - A wickedly-interesting nearly leafless shrub grows slowly to 6 to 9 feet tall with oppositely-arranged flattened 2 inch wide triangular spine-tipped gray-green photosynthetic stems (called cladodes) arranged in opposite pairs, resembling a ship's anchor. Small creamy-white lightly-fragrant flowers (often compared to the scent of lilac or almonds in flower) at the stem joints bloom in late summer or fall. New growth has small leaves that are present only briefly. Plant in full sun in a light to medium well-drained soil where it is drought tolerant. Can tolerate temperatures down to at least 20 F and some claim to as low as 0 F so long as the soil is kept dry. Prune occasionally to keep dense or contain size. It is best to plant a bit away from pathways where one might find it dangerous but it is an unusually attractive and impressive barrier plant that nothing would dare go through. This plant hails from Uruguay, western Argentina and south-eastern Brazil where it most often is a woodland plant. It is seen cultivated in botanical collections in mediterranean climate regions, but its hardiness has allowed it to be cultivated in the British Isles since 1824. Unfortunately this once common plant it is reportedly becoming less so in its native range due to habitat loss. The genus name coined by the French naturalist Philibert Commerson honors French botanist Philibert Collet (1643-1718). German born botanist Kurt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel described this species in 1825 with the specific epithet from the Greek words 'para' meaning "besides" and 'doxa' meaning "opinion" which combined to mean "against the usual opinion", "unexpected" or "strange" in refence to the interesting look of the plant. This species is considered synonymous with Colletia cruciata, a name used by William Jackson Hooker in 1829 to describe a plant discovered by Scottish naval surgeon and botanist Dr. John Gillies while he was in South America. Other common names include Crucifixion Thorn, Crucifix Thorn, Thorn of the Cross, Jet-Plane Plant, Gigs, Curumamil and Espina de la Cruz (Thorn of the Cross). Interestingly the members of Colletia, including C. paradoxa are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form much like many legumes can do and this allows the plants to grow on nutrient poor soils. Though we have long admired this plant at the Huntington Gardens and elsewhere, we have grown this interesting plant since first getting seed from Seedhunt in 2007 - our current crops are from seed collected on plants growing on our nursery grounds.  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Colletia paradoxa.