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Products > Dermatobotrys saundersii
Dermatobotrys saundersii - Tree Jockey
Image of Dermatobotrys saundersii
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figworts)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Coral
Bloomtime: Winter/Summer
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Dermatobotrys saundersii (Tree Jockey) An unusual epiphytic semi-deciduous subshrub with a heavy woody rhizome from which emerge upright stems to 2 to 3 feet tall bearing at their tips the attractive rubbery 3 inch long shallowly-toothed deep green leaves that are entirely flushed with purplish-red when first emerging. These leaves, which have a pungent though not entirely pleasant smell when rubbed, are subtended by clusters encircling the stems of arching coral-red trumpet-shaped flowers from early winter to late spring and sometimes into summer. The flowers are followed by smooth oval dark green fruit that ripen to brown that are filled with small seeds in a sweet pulp. The fruit is considered edible and compared to a fig. Our plants fruit but we have yet to taste it and curiously the USDA's poisonous plant list also includes this plant. Plant in cool full to part sun or bright shade in a well-drained humus rich soil and irrigate regularly spring through fall. Makes a great container or hanging basket plant or can be used epiphytically by planting in the crotch of a tree. It is noted that plants can live for many years in large pots without the need of repotting. Our stock plant has remained outdoors and is briefly deciduous in cold winters but plants remain evergreen in warm years or when grown indoors. It comes from winter dry coastal forests in eastern South Africa from southern Zululand south to Transkei where it can be found growing up in the branch fork of living or dead trees and sometimes on the forest floor - because of its limited habitat this plant is considered at risk of extinction. The name Dermatobotrys comes from the Greek words 'derma' meaning "skin" and 'botrys' which means a "cluster of grapes" and the specific epithet honors Sir Charles James Renault Saunders (1857-1935), the Chief Magistrate in Kwa-Zulu Natal who was credited with first collecting Dermatobotrys saundersii, though after the name was applied by Harry Bolus, an earlier collection by W.T.Gerrard was discovered. Sir Charles's mother, Lady Katharine Saunders (18241901), a well-known plant collector was also honored by the naming of Ornithogalum saundersiae. Seeds of Dermatobotrys were sent to Kew in the 1890's and this plant has been in cultivation there since this time. Our plants from Dylan Hannon, Curator of the Huntington Botanic Garden Conservatory in 2005. 

This information about Dermatobotrys saundersii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.