Daily Flower Candy: Crinodendron hookerianum

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Crinodendron hookerianum: Chilean lantern tree, Tricuspidaria lanceolata

There are some trees that you don’t come across very often, but when you do they are guaranteed to blow you away. Crinodendron hookerianum, the Chilean lantern tree is one of them. Like all good plants it was introduced to the UK by a Cornishman, William Lobb, in 1848. The species name hookerianum honors Sir William Jackson Hooker, an English botanist who studied many Chilean plants.


Crinondendron hookerianum, Shaftesbury, June 2016


A slow-growing tree, C. hookerianum needs shelter and a partially shaded spot, but most importantly it demands humus-rich, acidic soil, just like rhododendrons. In its natural habitat trees tend to grow near streams or in damp, humid places: hence they fare well in western parts of the UK and Ireland.


Crinondendron hookerianum, Shaftesbury, June 2016


The leaves of Crinodendron hookerianum put me in mind of Phillyrea latifolia, which grows so well in our seaside garden, but it’s the carmine-pink flowers, suspended in long rows beneath the branches, that this tree is admired for. The pendent, bell-shaped corollas are made up of five petals, each with a finely toothed edge. They feel waxy and look thoroughly oriental. If you have the right conditions you’d be a fool not to find a home for this wonderful tree. Not only will you be dazzled by its late spring / early summer display, but so will your family, friends and neighbours.

Crinodendron hookerianum is available from Crocus.co.uk and Burncoose Nurseries.


Crinondendron hookerianum, Marwood Hill 2015

Categories: Daily Flower Candy, Flowers, Foliage, Photography, Plants, Trees and Shrubs

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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20 comments On "Daily Flower Candy: Crinodendron hookerianum"

  1. Have just been on a short three day trip round some private gardens in Hampshire and saw this flooring in its head off in the first garden we visited. Just before our trip, I was given a small specimens from a local gardener – hope it doesn’t take too long to grow.

    Mrs. P.

    1. Lucky you! What a nice gift. I don’t think it’s too slow to get going so you should have a nice display in no time. You are very good at getting out and about to see different gardens. I need so much more time to see everything I’d like to. Have a lovely weekend.

    1. It’s a cracker isn’t it? Funnily enough I am starting to see crinodendrons in all sorts of places now, although not in Broadstairs where the chalk soil would see them off in no time. Have a lovely weekend.

  2. I have one growing in our garden in Cornwall – apparently it once caught fire (our house previously being owned by my husband’s family) but it fully recovered, and is currently looking great in bloom.

  3. One of my favourites. Always reminds me of Chinese New Year in Soho 🙂 .
    Bought one a few years ago and have kept it in a pot since. Worried it might die of cold, I wrapped it up in its first winter with us in bubble wrap – the entire plant, for weeks. Not a good idea: it lost most of its leaves for lack of air circulation and was naked and straggly ever after until I chopped it down last summer. Having feared the worst, I’m pleased its still alive and re-sprouting, though whether it will ever become a pleasantly bush plant again remains to be seen…

    Belated “Happy Birthday”, by the way, and likewise thank you again for the great coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show!

  4. I remember this shrub well from my plant identification days at college as the lecturer always referred to it as the lipstick tree as a way to describe it…but I always tried to remember it by being like a crinoline skirt, so at least I had the first 5 letters ready for our tests!! I saw lots of them a couple of weeks ago in Trebah gardens looking lovely.

    1. I am looking at a tree now, as I sit eating my hotel breakfast, and the flowers look like little Chinese lanterns, or apples when they are slightly more open. Such a fun plant to describe! Last night I walked around the lake at Stourhead and there was a whole glade of them, just as at Trebah. Have a lovely weekend Anne.

  5. I have wanted one ever since I first laid eyes on one, but have no lee-side space to put one. I get a lot of cold, eastern winter winds from the Columbia Gorge – kind of a wind tunnel effect. It’ll have to be in my next garden… Something to look forward to, for sure!

  6. I have this in my gdn. Love this shrub. I am restricted to just outside the back door at the moment as I fell in a gdn we were visiting. Broke two bones in foot. So frustrating. Another two weeks and cast will be removed. Six weeks in a cast is too much but then it.s not forever so I think like that. Some people are confined to wheelchairs forever so I thank god mine is a temporary blip in my life. I can’t wait to get back to the gdn. Not a person who likes sitting around. Your wonderful posts have kept me in touch with the gdn, especially the Chelsea ones. Thank you so much!

    1. You are very welcome Sally. I am so sorry to hear about your injury. As someone who can’t bear to stay still I can imagine how frustrated you must feel. I hope the breaks knit together nicely and you are bounding about like a gazelle soon 😄

  7. I keep this in a pot as I haven’ t got the soil for it. It has lived there quite happily for some years now. Everyone who comes to the garden wants to know what it is. It makes quite a show.

    1. I bet they do! And how good to know it can be happy growing in a pot. PS My alcathaea “Parkallee” is now 4ft tall and I am desperate to get it out of its pot and into the new garden – the builders are taking their time!

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