Maddenia - Care Guide

Caring for Maddenia

This is a particularly rare and unusual genus of plants which are now flowering and getting established again at Caerhays. Maddenia were first introduced to the UK by Ernest Wilson in 1907 and are recorded in the garden here as late as 1966 but have subsequently died.

Maddenia are small trees closely related to prunus but have very different flowers. These are borne in short dense terminal racemes as the leaves emerge in April. The flowers do have small petals but most of the flower is actually a cluster of sepals. These emerge greenish-yellowish and become pinkish as they mature.

M. hypoleuca, which flowered at Caerhays three or four years from planting out, has cherry like leaves with, at first, an attractive bronzy tint. They are glaucous underneath. The flowers are followed by small black fruits which we are now attempting to propagate. 

M. wilsonii seems, with us, to be much more vigorous and compact (rather than erect) in its growth habit. It has yet to flower here but the flower clusters are green. The new leaves are densely hairy and, unlike M. hypoleuca, the veining on the undersides of mature leaves is also hairy.

We are growing these small trees in clearings where they experience full sun for part of the day and then dappled shade. M. hypoleuca is probably in too hot a position here and is growing more slowly but flowering at an early age.



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