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Garden Talk

weeping rostrinucula

Horticultural Highlight: Rostrinucula

Jason Holmes

Duke Gardens staff periodically shines the light on specific plants that are found within our 55 acre living collection. This week, Doris Duke Center Gardens curator Jason Holmes  features an oddity of the mint family.

Botanical name: Rostrinucula dependens
Common name: Weeping rostrinucula
Family name: Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Native range: Endemic to south-central China
Location in Duke Gardens: Doris Duke Center Gardens and Historic Gardens
Site requirements: Sun to dappled shade. Grows in average garden soils.
USDA Hardiness Zones7-10

weeping rostrinucula

Here is one that’s hard to pronounce; I am not even sure I say it right!  Rostrinucula dependens (rōs-trī-nū’cū-la de-pen’denz) is an unusual shrub member of the mint family. Growing 3 to 5 feet tall and spreading as wide, weeping rostrinucula receives many second looks starting in late summer when the stems reveal long pendent pink flowers at the tips. These flowers appear out of gray-felted bracts and travel down the weeping 8- to 10-inch racemes beginning in September and lasting through October, with continued interest through the cold months of winter. 

Another great feature is the attraction that butterflies and other late season pollinators alike have to these flowers. I suspect it must give them the nectar they need to carry on their journey. 

Rostrinucula would make a great addition to a border, where it would mix well with other small shrubs and summer blooming perennials.  It is heat and drought tolerant and worthy of a special place in your garden.

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Photos by Cathi Bodine (top) and Jason Holmes.