Clerodendrum trichotomum
Common Name: clerodendrum
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where it is grown in organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. In St. Louis, it is not reliably winter hardy and, if attempted, should be sited in a protected location with a winter mulch.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to China and Japan, this clerodendrum is a coarse, sometimes unkempt, deciduous shrub or small tree that grows 10-20’ tall. It is most often seen as a suckering shrub. It must be trained to grow as a tree and is rarely seen growing in that form. As an ornamental, this shrub is perhaps best noted for its late summer flowers, showy fruit and malodorous foliage. Tubular, fragrant, white flowers in long-peduncled cymes (to 6-9” across) bloom in the upper leaf axils from late summer into fall. Flowers are followed by small bright blue fruits, each subtended by a fleshy red calyx. Opposite, toothed to entire, ovate, dark green leaves (to 5-8” long) produce no fall color. When bruised, the leaves do produce a unique aroma reminiscent of peanut butter as memorialized by the sometimes used common name of peanut butter tree for this plant. Harlequin glorybower is a more frequently used common name. Clerodendrum comes from the Greek words klero (fate) and dendron (tree), hence the infrequently used common name of fate tree.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, grow in shrub borders or woodland margins. In St. Louis, plants may be attempted in sheltered locations with winter mulch.