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Coronilla - Growing Guide
This is a genus which has attracted the recent attention of the taxonomists. Coronilla emerus is now renamed as Hippocrepis emerus. Coronilla glauca is now deemed to be a subspecies of Coronilla valentina rather than a species in its own right. If you find all this confusing so do we! For the sake of simplicity we will deal with C. emerus, C. valentina and C. valentina subsp glauca together here.
These coronilla originate from central and southern Europe. They are therefore hardy in most parts of the UK except perhaps the very coldest counties. They all have pinnate leaves and pea-like flowers with long clawed petals and curious, slender, pea-like seed pods.
They like a reasonably rich, well drained loamy soil and a sunny position. Coronilla are easy to grow and are popular plants as a result. Pruning of old and ‘leggy’ plants is desirable and coronillas reshoot vigorously to such treatment.
The deciduous C. emerus will eventually grow to 6 or 7ft in height with a similar spread. The yellow flowers are usually carried in groups of three and begin in May although they will usually carry on flowering into October. The popular name of this plant is the ‘Scorpian Senna’ which derives from the curved seed pod that resembles a scorpion’s tail.
C. valentina is an evergreen shrub from Spain growing to around 5ft. The leaves are bright green with 13 leaflets on each pinnate leaf. The flowers are fragrant, bright yellow and appear in February through to April or May.
C. valentina subsp glauca (and its creamy white variegated form) has a more compact habit and grows to only 3ft. The leaves are blue-green and the flowers are yellow (subsp glauca ‘Citrina’ has pale yellow flowers). So, whatever the taxonomists may, it is fairly easy to identify and differentiate between the three species!
Coronilla are easily propagated from seed sown when ripe in a cold frame or as softwood cuttings in early summer.