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Products > Duranta erecta 'Alice Keck Park'
 
Duranta erecta 'Alice Keck Park' - Brazilian Sky Flower
   
Image of Duranta erecta 'Alice Keck Park'
 
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Verbenaceae (Vervains)
Origin: West Indies (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Blue
Bloomtime: Spring/Fall
Synonyms: [Duranta repens]
Height: 15-25 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Duranta erecta 'Alice Keck Park' (Brazilian Sky Flower) - Grown for its summer flowers and ornamental fruit, this evergreen shrub spreads and arches to 25 feet tall and nearly as wide - grown as a tree it is more upright in habit with a spread about half the width. It has mid-green 2 to 4 inch long elliptic leaves with an occasional long spine forming below the leaves. In spring through summer, and sometimes into winter, appear the cascading clusters of dark violet-blue flowers with a dark stripe in the middle of each of the five petals with paler stripes along their margins. After flowering appear the wonderfully contrasting orange-yellow berries. Grow best in full to part sun with occasional deep watering and is cold hardy to about 20-25 F with foliage often turning a dark near-black with temperatures approaching freezing. In part shade it is moderately drought tolerant. In mild climates this plant can be in flower nearly year round with flowers and fruit appearing at the same time. It is a good choice for espaliers, as a small tree or large bush; all forms benefit from frequent selective pruning. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Duranta erecta, long grown as D. repens is native to the New World from Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean south to Brazil and has many common names, including golden dewdrop, pigeon-berry and sky-flower. The name for the genus honors Castore Durante (AKA Castor Durante da Gualdo) a 16th century Italian botanist and physician who wrote a book in 1585 describing medicinal plants from Europe and East and West Indies. The specific epithet is descriptive of the upright habit of the plant. This form of Brazilian Skyflower is one that we first grew in 1982 that has long arching branches bearing sky blue flowers that are lighter in color than the 'Sapphire Showers'. The attractive fruits and the foliage have saponins that are poisonous to humans but are considered to be bitter and, while poisonings in the US were unreported in 1986 when Thomas C. Fuller and Elizabeth McClintock's Poisonous Plants of California (University of California Press, 1986) was published, there were reports of children becoming ill from eating berries in Australia. This plant was first introduced to California by Joseph Sexton at his Goleta Valley Nursery in 1879 and reported by Dr. Francesco Franceschi (AKA Emanuele Orazio Fenzi) as not being rare in Santa Barbara when he arrived in 1895. Our original cuttings of this plant were taken in 1982 from a plant growing in Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, a Santa Barbara City Park that was built on the site of the historic El Mirasol Hotel (built in 1903) after being purchased and then donated to the city by Alice Keck Park. We call this plant by this name to distinguish it from the many other forms of this species that are in the trade.  The information on this page is based on research conducted about this plant in our library and from reliable online sources. We also take into consideration observations of this plant in our nursery crops, as well as of plants growing in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens we visit. We also will incorporate comments that we receive 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 Duranta erecta 'Alice Keck Park'.
 
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