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Products > Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'
Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea' - Purple-leafed Hop-bush

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Sapindaceae (Soapberries)
Origin: Southwest (U.S.) (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Insignificant
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Height: 12-16 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea' (Purple-leafed Hop-bush) - This rapid growing, evergreen shrub reaches 12 to 16 feet tall and about as wide - more upright when young - spreading out with age. Narrow bronzy-green 4 inch long leaves turn purple with cooler weather. Tolerates some shade but color is better if grown in full sun. Tiny green flowers in clusters mid-summer followed by brown maple-like seed capsules in late summer. Provide a well-draining soil, drought tolerant once established but looks best with occasional deep water. We have listed this plant as cold hardy to about 10-15 F but were recently notified of a young planting that succumbed after temperatures reached 16 F in Los Alamos, California during the January 2007 freeze. It is an ideal plant for use as a specimen or as an informal hedge or screen. Prune for structure in fall and winter and tolerant of shearing during the growing season. This species has an incredibly wide cosmopolitan distribution - it is considered native throughout the southwest US and northern Mexico but varieties and subspecies are found throughout the tropics and sub-tropics including Hawaii, New Zealand and all of Australian states and territories, where it grows in a wide range of habitats. According to Lawrence Metcalf in his The Cultivation of New Zealand Trees and Shrubs (Reed Methuen Publishers, 1987), this 'Purpurea' selection was discovered in the early 1890s by Mrs Thomas Wilkins, a keen eyed gardener who found it growing along the Wairau River near Marlborough, located near the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand. She collected seeds of the plant and grew it in her garden until a Christchurch nurseryman acquired seed and introduced it into the New Zealand nursery trade where it was called Purple Ake Ake. It is considered a color-sport that sporadically occurs in wild populations and can also revert to green. It is still often produced from seed in the nursery trade but resulting plants progeny often range in color from greenish bronze, through red and purple to dark purple. Our plants are cutting grown from a particularly nice dark seedling grown plant that we selected at our nursery and are a uniform dark reddish purple. The name of the genus honors Rembert Dodoens, a 16th Century Flemish botanist and the specific epithet is from the Latin word 'viscosus' meaning sticky in reference to the sometimes sticky leaves.  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 visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'.