Elaeocarpus hainanensis (tentative)

Today’s photo and entry once again come from the camera and pen of Douglas Justice.

As a person fascinated with plants of all kinds—though admittedly, I’m more familiar with temperate plants—I couldn’t help but be impressed with the range of tropical and subtropical plants at the South China Botanical Garden, where I attended the Second International Magnolia Symposium this past May. I should confess, too, that woody plants, especially trees, are my great passion. Leaving magnolias aside, one of the most beautiful groups I saw in the garden was the Elaeocarpus collection. The tree pictured is about 5 m tall and about as wide. Each and every branch was festooned with sweetly scented cream and white flowers. The overall effect of the fringed blooms against the glossy, deep green leaves was exceptionally beautiful. In all, I saw some five distinct species, though there were probably many more in the collection.

The name hainanensis indicates that this species is found on Hainan Island, off the south coast of China (it also occurs on the adjacent mainland and in Indochina). Although unlabeled, the species resembled other trees of E. hainanensis, so this is the name I’ve provisionally given to it; as there are about 350 species in the genus, however, I’m just as likely to be wrong about the identification. I strongly suspect that many species are grown as ornamentals because of their clean, evergreen foliage and their great beauty when in flower.

Elaeocarpus hainanensis

16 responses to “Elaeocarpus hainanensis (tentative)”

  1. Tammy

    This is absolutely beautiful! Fragrance is a bonus! What is the zonal range for it? Wonder if it’s available in the nursery trade? Thank you for the info and posting the gorgeous picture. I enjoy BPoTD so much.

  2. Lawrence Hazelrigg

    Yes, I think this is E hainanensis; if not,there is another species highly similar. I have sought without success a specimen in the trade–to join a marvelous specimen of E japonicus (about 9 meters); it has been hardy to 15ºF; similar foliage but regularly sports an isolated brilliant red leaf here and there; purple plum-like drupes. Do you know the tolerance of E hainanensis?

  3. Beverley

    Elaeocarpus – Z9 – RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths

  4. Annie Morgan

    Stunning sight!

  5. Jackie

    Wow, they are so perfect and so beautiful! Thanks!

  6. van

    Exquisite blooms.

  7. Sheryl

    WOW! Our Creator sure has an eye for beauty! He certainly delights in amazing us with awesome wonders! Thanks so much for sharing the beauty and your knowledge with us.

  8. sue

    Beautiful! Oh to have smell-o-vision on my laptop…. 😉

  9. elizabeth a airhart

    talk about passion i am in passion
    from what i can find on the web
    it can be planted in florida
    does this lovely also have the berries
    that are dried and made into beads
    made to wear around ones neck
    your passion about
    your calling is very strong thank you

  10. CB

    oh my! i am a sucker for anything fringed, or “fimbriate” i should say. how lovely!

  11. Petra

    A very beautiful example of a plant!
    I love to ponder the intricate path of natural selection and adaptation, playing out over time, that has led to the evolution of this species. The ecological implications of evergreen foliage, the attraction of specific pollinators.. I think it is the fact that such simple biological processes generate something so unique and aesthetically perfect that most fills me with wonder.

  12. holly

    As I was looking at this and marveling over the beautiful, delicate “decoration” nature supplies, I thought it would be grand to show this image with an earlier one on this site — of the spiky-textured tree dotted with puff balls. How glorious! I cannot imagine how any one can claim to be bored in a world that holds such wonders.
    Thank you for posting it and for all of your comments.

  13. Lynne

    Gorgeous! Reminds me of a corps of ballet dancers performing Swan Lake. If the creators of Fantasia could have seen these, who knows what wonders they might have come up with?

  14. Margaret-Rae Davis

    What a beautiful photo. The blossoms are so special and it is wonderful to see an aspect of China I have not seen before.
    Thank you,

  15. David

    I have a very similar plant, E grandiflorus (E. angustifolius). Flowers look the same but with a little pink on the sepals. Blooms profusely several times a year. It is a native of Queensland. After the flowers it produces, like many other Elaeocarpus, bright blue berries.

  16. hudiren


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