Plants in the Garden: Clerodendrum

   One of the most commonly cultivated, and certainly the largest and most diverse genus in the Verbena family (Verbenaceae), is Clerodendrum. More than four hundred species are distributed pan-tropically, but overwhelmingly in the African and Asian tropics.

   Clerodendrum are usually shrubs, rarely trees or vines. The cultivated species are showy in flower, and a few are fragrant as well.  Most require bright shade to partial sun in the garden, and some are quite drought tolerant when established. Several can be somewhat invasive due to prolific root suckers.

    Clerodendrum flowers come in all colors, with red being very common. White, pink, blue and mixtures are also known. Nearly a dozen species of Clerodendrum are grown at Selby Gardens including the following: Clerodendrum paniculatum from Java is a large summer flowering shrub similar to the locally common Clerodendrum fallax. Both produce masses of red blossoms. A related unidentified plant is Clerodendrum‘Borneo Sunset’ from Sarawak. From Thailand comes a recent introduction, Clerodendrum schmidtianum, with graceful hanging racemes of flowers. Clerodendrum macrostegium is a small tree 3 to 4 meters tall, with lavender-pink bracts and pale pink flower. It is native to the Philippines.