Coprosma 'Black Cloud'

Common Name: Black Cloud Mirror Bush 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rubiaceae
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White to green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers full sun. Established plants tolerate some periods of drought. Intolerant of wet soils. Dislikes the humid conditions of the deep South. Plants will not survive temperatures that dip below 25 degrees F. in winter. Smaller plants may be grown in containers that are brought inside to a greenhouse in cold winter locations. In the U.S., it grows best in the climate of California and the Pacific Northwest.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Coprosma covers more than 90 different species of dioecious evergreen shrubs and small trees which are primarily native to grasslands, forests and rocky areas in New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia and Indonesia with 13 species native to Hawaii. Species plants are sometimes commonly called mirror plant in reference to the glossy reflective leaves. Small white to green male and female flowers are found on separate plants (dioecious) and are usually inconspicuous. Flowers on female plants give way to berries (color range of yellow-orange to red) which mature in late summer to fall. Plants grow in both upright and creeping forms. Leaves appear in a variety of colors, depending upon species, and are usually small, narrow to rounded, thick and leathery.

The leaves of several species of Coprosma have fetid odors when crushed.

Genus name comes from the Greek words kopros meaning dung and osme meaning a smell for the fetid smell of some species.

‘Black Cloud’ is a small hybrid evergreen shrub of unknown parentage. It is commonly known as mirror plant or looking glass plant in reference to its very glossy reflective leaves. It typically grows as a shrub to 2-5’ tall, but is more often seen as a sprawling, semi-procumbent woody plant to 6-24” tall spreading to 36” wide or more. Creeping branches in a herringbone like pattern are clad with unusually attractive, opposite, simple, elliptic to obovate or almost linear leaves (to 1.5” long) which are a very glossy green with much darker coloring at the base, apex and margins. Leaf color darkens to blackish bronze (some say near black) as the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, but brightens to green with darker shadings in spring. Some experts list Black Cloud as a cultivar of Coprosma x kirkii (parents being C. acerosa and C. repens).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to root rot. Watch for scale.

Garden Uses

Often used as a ground cover, along foundations, mass plantings, small hedge, and rock gardens, Containers. Bank cover along Pacific Ocean.