A Shrub Obsession

At RHS Rosemoor there is one shrub I always have to see. It doesn’t matter what time of the year I visit, I cannot leave without seeing this one plant. Other people just wander past it, while I stand and stare. The plant in question is a shrub of conventionally modest beauty called Lindera triloba, and the particular plant in question is from Roy Lancaster’s L1960 collection.

The Linderas are one of those ‘hardy but seldom heard of’ plant genera. They’re relatives of the well known Laurus nobilis (Bay Tree) and are predominantly found in South East Asia, although a couple of species are found in North East America. Lindera triloba is from Japan and, according to the Hillier Manual Of Trees And Shrubs, the L1960 plant at Rosemoor was from seed sent from Japan via Roy Lancaster in 2000.

In spring the bare branches of Lindera triloba bear small clusters of tiny golden yellow flowers, individually insignificant but beautiful en masse. On female plants these flowers are followed by green fruits; while I suspect that the Rosemoor plant is male (those look like stamens to me!) it is on its own so I’ve never had the chance to see any fruits.

Although the flowers of this species are very pretty in their subtle way it is the foliage that is the big hit with Lindera triloba. As you can guess from ‘triloba’ the leaves are three-lobed, although there is subtle variation in the leaves. The leaves emerge bright green in spring but remain that fresh green into summer, turning a deep golden yellow in the autumn. Crug Farm Plants describes this species as “One of the most exquisite of all the deciduous foliage shrubs [they] have collected…”, with the autumn colour “… one of the best autumnal deep-yellows available.”

Linderas need neutral to acidic soils with good moisture retention and free drainage. They are happiest in full sun but will tolerate a degree of shade. I would advise against growing them in a very exposed spot; you don’t want anything to damage the leaves, or a strong wind to prematurely rob you of the autumn display!