Melliodendron xylocarpum

Melliodendron xylocarpum was featured in the first Botany Photo of the Day, nearly seven years ago. At the time, Douglas Justice, UBC Botanical Garden Curator of Collections, commented:

Melliodendron xylocarpum–the name means something like woody fruited honey tree–is, according to the 1998 book “Rare and Precious Plants of China,” native to China’s southern provinces at between 500 and 1500 metres. Not an elevation to give much confidence in its cold hardiness, but because it has wintered here completely unscathed since planting (1996), I suspect that it had a more extensive historical range. Melliodendron is in Styracaceae (snowbell family) and monotypic (a single species in the genus) and is probably closely related to Rehderodendron and Sinojackia, both of which have similar ribbed, woody fruits…This [2005] is the third or fourth year that Melliodendron has flowered at UBC. Thankfully, we have 7 individuals–all planted in 1996, all, we assume from the same seed lot (the plants came to us from a commercial supplier)–and the one pictured, which is our finest specimen, will be spared the now constant crush of traffic when the others start flowering more prolifically.”

Today’s photograph is from May of 2011. This is a different plant from the previous entry, and it helps to show some of the flower colour variability between individuals (here, noticeably pinker).

Melliodendron xylocarpum

5 responses to “Melliodendron xylocarpum”

  1. Douglas Justice

    Our melliodendrons are continuing to prosper. Even after last winter’s severe temperature and heavy snowfall events, all plants came through with flying colours (i.e., no damage at all). One specimen, which is planted in the entrance courtyard, has no overhead cover and is exposed to the cold northeast winds. Although it had never flowered before, it did so last spring. (The Wollemia nobilis planted nearby was killed outright during one of the hard freezes last winter.) In fact, we had so many flowers on our various specimens last spring that one of our more intrepid Friends of the Garden volunteers (occasional Botany Photo of the Day contributor, Ian Gillam) performed some pollinations. We ended up with about a half dozen very curious looking fruits, which we protected from the squirrels by enclosing in onion bags on the branches.

  2. Connie Hoge

    How lovely, delicate, and a beautiful photo.

  3. Canaryfish

    What a wonderful photo to dispel those winter blahs!
    Spring will come again!
    Thanks! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Wendy Cutler

    There’s a thread on these on the forums:, which starts out with Daniel complaining about how hard these are to photograph.
    I’ll put at link from there back to here, as Douglas’s fruit photo is wonderful.

  5. Lynne

    I love the looking-upward perspective on this one. It makes me feel like I’m lying under the tree on a beautiful spring afternoon.

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