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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Leucothoe (Leucothoe; daughter of Orchamus, king of Babylonia). Including Agarista. Ericaceae. Ornamental shrubs grown chiefly for the handsome rather large usually evergreen leaves and the white flowers.

Evergreen or deciduous: leaves alternate, short-petioled, serrate: flowers in axillary or terminal racemes; calyx 5-parted, imbricate; corolla ovate or cylindrical; stamens 10; anthers obtuse or 2-awned or 4-awned at the apex: caps. 5-lobed, with the sutures not thickened, separating into 5 valves; seeds minute, irregular. —About 35 species in N. and S. Amer., Madagascar, Himalayas and Japan, formerly often united with Andromeda, which differs like Lyonia chiefly in its valvate calyx.

The leucothoes, and particularly the evergreen species, are very handsome shrubs with rather large lustrous leaves and with white, rarely pink or scarlet, usually nodding flowers, appearing mostly in spring. The South American species, which are very rare in cultivation, though they surpass the others in beauty of the flowers, are hardy only South, while the other species can be grown as far north as Massachusetts and western New York, the evergreen ones in sheltered positions or with slight protection during the winter. They are very handsome for borders of shrubberies or as undergrowth in open woods. They thrive best in somewhat moist peaty or sandy soil, and prefer shaded or partly shaded situations, but also grow in full sun if the soil is not too dry.

Of the leucothoes, Catesbaei is one of the most ornamental and popular hardy broad-leaved evergreens. It is used for massing in connection with rhododendrons, kalmias, and the like, serving as a base for these taller plants. The shiny dark green leaves are borne with regularity on a recurved stem often 2 to 3 feet long, and sometimes color brilliant bronze and claret shades in autumn when exposed to the direct rays of the sun. Leucothoe sprays are largely used by florists in making up designs and in connection with galax leaves, usually, however, in the more informal pieces. They were introduced to the trade about 1890. The fragrant flowers are in the leaf-axils, borne along the stem in early spring, and are usually conspicuous, considering the fact that the leaves are persistent. It is this graceful evergreen spray effect, with the good color and dense habit, that makes leucothoe so desirable as a plant for massing, and also the fact, perhaps, that it is fairly easy to transplant. Seeds are produced freely, and can be sown in sphagnum moss and sand under glass, as rhododendrons and azaleas are grown, pricked off in flats and planted outdoors in early spring, when the plants are a few inches high. Leucothoe is also propagated by division, underground runners and cuttings, the latter being plunged in sand on the bench and given moderate bottom heat. It is usually collected, however, in its native habitat, in small plants, transplanted to nursery rows and grown for several seasons.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture
  • L. Davisise. Torr. Evergreen shrub, to 5 ft.: leaves oblong, obtuse, crenately serrulate: racemes slender, many-fld., clustered in terminal panicles. May, June. Calif. .
  • L. Grayana, Maxim. Half-evergreen: leaves large, broadly oval, appressed-pilose: racemes terminal, slender; flowers rather small. June. Japan. Tender.
  • L. neriifolia, DC. (Agarista neriifolia, Don). Evergreen, glabrous shrub, with ovate-oblong, acuminate leaves and bright scarlet flowers in erect, slender racemes at the end of the branches. Brazil.
  • L. pulchra, DC. (Agarista pulchra, Don). Evergreen shrub, 2 ft. or more high, glabrous: leaves ovate, mucronate, about 1 in. long: fls. white, in spreading, peduncled, slender racemes, much longer than the leaves.


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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