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Featured Plant

Luculia sp.


Scientific Name: Luculia

Common Names: 

Family: Rubiaceae

Plant Type: Shrub

Environment: Grows best in acidic well-drained soil, requires some shade. Keep watered during California's dry summers.

Bloom: September and October

Uses: If left alone, Luculia can get up to 20' depending on species. Can also be treated more like a shrub and cut back each year after flowering. Flowers are quite fragrant and would be nice to have near a sidewalk or window to enjoy.

Other: The Rubiaceae family is also home to coffee (Coffea), quinine (Cinchona) and the popular fragrant flower gardenia


Luculia is located in:

Entry Garden (Bed 5A),  

Asia Discovery Garden (Beds 7A & 10A) and

Camellia Garden (Bed 58E).



Luculia sp.

In September and October the perfume of the shrub, Luculia, drifts through the garden with a delicate scent reminiscent of gardenias, both of which belong to the same family of plants. Panicles of fragrant pale pink or white, tubular flowers cover the plants in autumn when blooming shrubs are few. The leaves are long, glossy, serrated, and end in a graceful drip tip, a modification which allows water to flow quickly off of the leaf surface.

An evergreen native of the Himalayas, Luculia grows at altitudes of 5000 feet in the companionship of rhododendrons and camellias. There are only 5 known species of Luculia which can be found native in China, Nepal, Vietnam, India, and Bhutan. They grow splendidly here with our mild climate and in lightly acidic well-drained soil. They can reach a height of 20 feet if grown in the shade of high trees and given summer watering. Blooms appear only on new wood; severe pruning of the old shoots after blooming is necessary.

Luculia was introduced to Europe in the 19th century during a time of intense explorations and discoveries by English plant hunters. A fine example, Luculia pinceana, (Bed 58e) is now in full bloom just opposite the Moon Viewing Garden.


Photos by Joanne Taylor; text by Kathy McNeil; profile by David Kruse-Pickler


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