The large deep green leaves and red flowers of the pagoda flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum) added color throughout the summer, but as the season cools and the days get shorter, the flowers are heavy with fruit, an olive-green turning to a deep blue. My plants grow under filtered shade of an oak tree in the richest soil in my garden. They survived the frosts of last winter, so I’m hoping that since they are more deeply rooted this year that they will make it through another Florida winter.
- Cultural perspective on pagoda flowers from My Nice Garden – gardening in Malaysia
I discovered the National Tropical Botanical Garden website. I thought it was a Malaysian website, since the heading was “Featured Plants of the Kampong”, kampong is a Malaysian word for village, and it describes the use of Senna alata to treat ringworm in Malaysia. When I checked to see exactly where it is located, it is in Hawaii and here in Florida, not in Malaysia after all.
I grow candlestick (sometime called Cassia alata) because I like the yellow flowers and because it is good for the sulfur butterflies. It is interesting to know about the medicinal possibilities also.
Although frequently planted in warm climates for its ornamental and drought-resistant qualities, candlestick senna is valued as a medicinal plant for the treatment of skin diseases, including ringworm, hence its alternate common name, ringworm senna. In Malayasia, for example, fresh leaves are rubbed directly onto the affected area. Its roots, flowers, and seeds are also prescribed in traditional medicine remedies. Scientific studies have shown the plant to exhibit some antimicrobial activity.
My pagoda flower plants (Clerodendrum paniculatum) are transplants from Meme’s garden. Even when not in bloom, the deep green leaves are an attractive and welcome addition to the garden. Mine are growing in the shade of a neighbor’s oak tree in the most fertile area of my garden due to years of natural oak leaf mulch. They can reach a height of 5 ft (1.5 m) with a spread of 3 ft (.9 m). My hope is that my 5 pagoda plants will grow enough to hide the fence between the two gardens by the end of next summer. Besides being a good border plant, the flowers are enjoyed by various butterflies and bees.
According to Floridata, the pagoda plant is native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and much of southeastern Asia. The plant gets its common name, pagoda flower, not from the individual flower seen in the photo above, but from the full pyramid-shaped cluster of flowers that resembles a Japanese pagoda shape. Compare the Japanese pagoda below in a photo I took in Myajima, Japan with the full blooms on the more mature plants in Meme’s garden.
I was inspired by Meems’ garden and her love for Caladium, so I added a few Caladium to my garden – just a few tucked in the corner. I first saw Caladium growing on the edge of the tropical rain forest in Malaysia and have loved their beauty since then. It seems appropriate to add a few to my garden since they do well here. My husband and daughter were delighted at the tropical touch they gave the garden.
Who can resist the bright and beautiful color of bougainvillaea? It has been one of my favorites since I first saw it in Malaysia many years ago. I bought two a few weeks ago intending to leave them in pots on the deck. Meems, from Hoe and Shovel, suggested that I plant them in the ground, so I did. Since the first two have nearly doubled in size, I purchased two more and planted them also. My concern is the winter cold since bougainvillea doesn’t tolerate freezing temperatures. Hopefully mine are sheltered by the fence and nearby trees and will survive winter weather.