Daily Flower Candy: Illicium simonsii

Rare, fickle and recommended only for ‘expert’ gardeners, this is Illicium simonsii. It was not a shrub I was familiar with, but its butter-yellow flowers caught my attention today at BlueBell Arboretum in Derbyshire. Naturally I wanted to know more. Hailing from southern Sichuan, northern Yunnan and Burma Illicium simonsii grows slowly to form a small, evergreen, pyramid-shaped shrub. Every year it is covered with clusters of starry, lightly fragranced flowers in February and March. A close relative, Illicium verum, is the source of star anise, my favourite spice.  A little shade, acidic soil and good drainage are prerequisites for successful cultivation, but even then this capricious beauty can succumb to cold, drought or exposure to strong winds.

BlueBell Nursery offers plants at a cool £28 but will only guarantee the plant’s health for 21 days.  Definitely one for the woodland gardener who enjoys a challenge.

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8 thoughts on “Daily Flower Candy: Illicium simonsii

      1. If I cartwheeled you would feel the earth tremor at Cliffe, so for that skill alone I would rate you as expert. Plus you have succeeded with so many super plants that I am sure you are being overly modest 🙂

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  1. I was getting so excited until you said ‘acidic soil’. Damn. ‘Rare, fickle’ ,they are the sort of challenge I like but I can’t do much about my soil. … Unless I tried it in a pot?

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    1. I get the impression it does not like extremes of wet and dry, so if it were in a pot I think it would need a lot of care. Perhaps try what I do with rhododendrons and plunge a large terracotta pot in the ground filled with ericaceous compost?

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  2. Just planted one today, which I got from Crug Farm Plants. I couldn’t resist it. I am in North Wilts where it can be cold and windy! Fingers crossed. Is yours still alive 3 years on? Sarah

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