San Marcos Growers LogoSan Marcos Growers
New User
Wholesale Login
Enter Password
Home Products Purchase Gardens About Us Resources Contact Us
COVID-19 Response
Search Utilities
Plant Database
Search by Plant Name
Advanced Search Avanced Search Go Button
Search by size, origins,
color, cultural needs, etc.
Website Search Search Website GO button
Search for any word
Site Map
Retail Locator
Plant Listings

PLANT TYPE
PLANT GEOGRAPHY
PLANT INDEX
ALL PLANT LIST
PLANT IMAGE INDEX
PLANT INTROS
SPECIALTY CROPS
NEW  2021 PLANTS

PRIME LIST
  for AUGUST


Natives at San Marcos Growers
Succulents at San Marcos Growers
 Weather Station

 
Products > Strobilanthes gossypina
 
Strobilanthes gossypina - Pewter Bush
   
Image of Strobilanthes gossypina
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus¹)
Origin: India (Asia)
Evergreen: Yes
Yellow/Chartreuse Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Mauve
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [S. gossypinus, Hort., S. lanatus]
Height: 3-4 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32° F
Strobilanthes gossypina (Pewter Bush) - A rounded dense evergreen shrub to 3 to 4 feet tall by a bit wider with very attractive 2 to 3 inch long elliptically shaped opposite paired leaves that alternate 90 degrees to the pair beneath. The leaves are covered in a short fuzz on the upper surface with prominent yellowish veins showing through the fuzz on the lower. The hairs are a soft gold color on the newly emerging leaves then age to silver gray with prominent narrow gold colored leaf margins. These leaves shimmer attractively in sunlight and, if the foliage is damp, the green color below also becomes evident. The flowers of this plant are tubular shaped and of a soft mauve color. They are held in elongated panicles that rise above the foliage in great profusion over many months, but these flowers are rarely seen as they are born on the plant only at maturity, which takes from 7 to 14 years and after flowering, the plant sets seed and dies. In nature such plants that all plants initiate flowering at one time, are called plietesials or semelparous mast-seeding (or masting) plants. Their life cycle is creatively also called "multiannual" since it takes more than a year, such as an annual, or two, such as a biennial, to complete the life cycle. Plant in coastal full to part sun or light shade. Will get a bit more open in deeper shade and most attractive with more light and at its best in full morning or part afternoon sun. Irrigate occasionally to very little as it handles relatively dry periods fairly well but with an occasional watering the plant will remain full and more attractive. It is frost-tender so best in near frost free gardens, but can resprout from the base after the top is damaged from cold. It reportedly tolerates salt-laden winds and so should be useful in seaside gardens. Trim back in spring every one to two years to maintain shape or if damaged by a frost. This very attractive shrub can be used as a focal specimen plant or for using its foliage contrast in combination with other low water using shrubs and perennials. There is some confusion of the name and origin of this plant in online sources. We are using the name Strobilanthes gossypina as listed as a correction to the epithet in 2008 on the International Plant Name Index (IPNI) but it is sometime listed as synonymous with Strobilanthes lanatus. This plant has naturalized in such places as Zimbabwe and Hawaii, which leads some to list other areas of origin, but was first described in 1867 by Dr. Thomas Anderson, the Superintendent of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Calcutta with the habitat reference "In montibus Mysore", meaning that it came from the mountains of India. Anderson also noted that "This is a most beautiful and distinct species, and is evidently rare, as it occurs only in Lobb's collection", referring to the wide traveling Cornish plant collector Thomas Lobb. This plant was listed In the 1901 edition of Curtis's Botanical Magazine noting that it was collected by Thomas Lobb at about 4,000 to 5,000 feet elevation at Sisparah Ghat in the Nilgiri Hills (the Blue Mountains) in the Western Ghats of Southern India, where it flowered on a 6 to 7 year cycle in nature. It first flowered at Kew in 1900, as a 13 year old seedling, so speculation is that its lifespan is prolonged in cultivation and in Pacific Northwest gardens it has gone much longer without flowering. We in the past have grown the related Strobilanthes kunthianus, which is another semelparous mast-seeding plant from the Nilgiri Hills and was the plant that when in flower turned the mountainsides blue, which led to the naming of this "Blue Mountain" region. The name for the genus comes from the Greek word 'strobilos' meaning "a cone" and 'anthos' "a flower" from the form of the buds and emergent flowers and the specific epithet is a reference to this plant's hair having a resemblance to cotton, in the genus Gossypium. Pewter Bush was listed as in cultivation in Santa Barbara in Peter Riedel's Plants for Extra-tropical Regions, published after Riedel's death in 1957, but has not been seen for many years since. It was also grown as an ornamental plant in New Zealand and possibly reintroduced from there back into the US in the Pacific northwest around 2001, but only first noted in cultivation in Southern California around 2010. We thank Mike Tully of Terra Sol Garden Center for sharing a flowering plant with us, which allowed us to collect and propagate this plant from seed in 2017. Our current crops were then produced from cuttings taken from these first seedlings and we expect to get many years out of them before they flower and the process will need to be repeated. The plant pictured in our 2nd image photographed in the late Ted Kippings wonderful San Francisco garden.  This information is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library and from reliable online sources. We also take into consideration observations of it in our nursery of crops, as well as of plants growing in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens we have visited. We will incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from anyone who may have additional information, particularly if it includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Strobilanthes gossypina.