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Products > Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'
Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea' - Purple-leafed Hop-bush
Image of Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'
[2nd Image]
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 20+ 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. Tiny green flowers in clusters mid-summer followed by brown maple-like seed capsules in late summer.

Tolerates some shade but color is better if grown in full sun. Provide a well-draining soil where it is 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 is also tolerant of lighter 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. 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.

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. Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea' 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. 

This information about Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea' 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.