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Products > Vestia foetida
Vestia foetida - Chilean Box Thorn

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Solanaceae (Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers)
Origin: Chile (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [V. lycioides, Periphragmos foetidus, Cantua sp.]
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Vestia foetida (Chilean Box Thorn) A compact upright growing evergreen shrub to 4 to 6 feet tall by 3 to 5 feet wide with glossy dark green 1 to 2 inch long by 3/4 inch wide alternate leaves that are pungently scented when crushed. It has attractive nodding 1 1/2 inch long tubular yellow flowers that have recurved petal lobes and protruding stamens that arise from the leaf axils in spring to early summer and are followed by upward facing acorn shaped fruit. Plant in full sun in a moderately well drained soil and irrigate regularly to occasionally. Cold hardy to at least 15° F (some list to 10° F) and useful at least in USDA Zones 8 and above. We really do not have much experience with growing this plant in the ground in our region but it comes from a mediterranean climate and should do well for us. It is highly thought of in the British Isles and Pacific Northwest where it often needs some winter protection. Its flowers are attractive to hummingbirds but its foliage is toxic to grazing animals. Vestia is a monotypic genus with this single species native to central and southern Chile where it grows above 650 feet in elevation. The name was given to the genus by the German botanist Carl Ludwig Willdenow to honor the physician Dr. Lorenz Chrysanth Edler von Vest of Klagenfurth. The specific epithet refers to the unpleasant smell of the leaves of this plant when crushed. In Chile it is known by the names Huevil, Echuelcúb or Chupli and, besides Chilean Box Thorn, other English common names include Stinking Vestia and Chilean Yellow Fuchsia. It was first introduced into cultivation before 1809 at the Berlin Botanic Garden and into England around 1815. Our thanks go out to Blair Haynes of ShingleHouse Nursery in Coos Bay Oregon, who first shared this plant with us.  The information on this page is based on our research conducted in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome 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 would aid others in growing  Vestia foetida.