Identification: Shrub with recurved dark green very tough opposite leaves

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by wcutler, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    These two shrubs opposite the firehall in my 'hood, an apartment building planting, are notable for their very attractive dark coloured leaves, maybe 3 cm long or less - a little hard to tell because the leaves are all curled back (but also because I forgot to measure them). The leaves are opposite, and very tough, and the few flowers I found are hard, like wood. Leaf margins are entire. Young leaves and stems are softer and hairy, seen in the last photo. The branches seem squared off.

    I did take habit photos of both shrubs, but one photo has disappeared. The first photo here, taken for the trunk, is the individual from which the detail photos were taken. I've thought of privet, but those larger flowers have me confused.
    Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175235.jpg Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175928.jpg
    Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175059.jpg Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175136.jpg Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175418.jpg Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175502.jpg
    Tough-recurved-leaves_NicolaNelson_Cutler_20190720_175534.jpg
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Box (Buxus)
     
  3. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Didn't think of that for a minute. Thanks. I see that the common name might come from the "square stems of young plants". Buxus microphylla - Plant Finder. These were noticeable on the young branches. I don't think this is a young plant.

    I finally found a "curly leaf privet": Ligustrum japonicum 'Rotundifolium': Curly Leaf Privet Ligustrum japonicum Rotundifolium from Taylor's Nursery
    Descriptions listed that match are:
    • Crinkled, green leaves
    • Upright, stiff habit
    • Mature Height:
      4-6 ft

      Mature Spread:
      3-4 ft

      Zone:
      7-11
    What doesn't seem to match is that it looks like all the spent flowers, or are they undeveloped flowers, were bunched up in the leaf axils, with one successful flower in some groups almost leaf-sized and sessile. [I have to edit this, as I obviously got lost, having got excited by leaves and habit that seemed to match, but without realizing I'd switched to Ligustrum]. Well, that's because that's what Buxus flowers are like, except for the single over-sized one. Ah, I see a photo of "ripening female flowers", and it was one flower in a cluster of small spent flowers, so Buxus is monoecious, and that's just what my photo shows.

    What I have not found is a curly leaved box. Are my beautiful shrubs just like that because they're diseased? I don't know. I saw a video of some box branches blowing in the wind. These branches and leaves are very stiff, and I haven't read anything yet with a description like that. But I've learned quite a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    In addition to foliage characters fruits shown in original post are those of box. There are many kinds - about his 2004 monograph Boxwood, An Illustrated Encyclopedia the author says

    In this effort, there are nearly 1,050 Buxus taxa which are thoroughly examined.

    Publications – The Boxwood Guy

    So that as many people as possible would have access to it I bought a copy and gave it to the Miller Horticultural Library in Seattle after it came out. I assume it is still present in their collections, if no publicly accessible library there in the Vancouver area has it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  5. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    You see fruits? I thought they were all dried flowers. 4th and 6th photo are fruits? 5th photo is flower?
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Clearly discernible fruits are visible in 4 and 6.
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Ditto to Box; maybe Buxus sempervirens, as that is generally the commonest in cultivation.
    The English name is from Greek Πυξός, by way of Latin Buxus. I'd be dubious about the square stems claim.
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Only about 70 species; not many more taxa (subspecies, varieties) than that. Presumably most of those 1,050 are cultivars? Cultivars are not taxa, of course.
     
  9. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm going to remember it anyway - I needed something to help me identify that genus, and that works just fine. I will try to remember not "teach" anyone else about it.
     
  10. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    At least his website doesn't mention curly leaves related to some disease or pest.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    4-angled twigs are characteristic of Buxus microphylla var. japonica.
     
  12. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Well, today I have found Buxus microphylla 'Curly Locks'. Buxus microphylla 'Curly Locks' | plant lust
    It's not all that convincing. Doesn't mention the stiff branches; one contributor to the page does say glossy dark green leaves, but two others say yellow-green leaves. And maximum height is supposed to be 2 or 3 feet - both of the ones I photographed were closer to 6 feet or 2 meters or a little less, but well over 2 or 3 feet.
    I'm disappointed to read that - I'd thought it meant Buxus in general had that characteristic. Thanks.
     
  13. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Just checked some Buxus sempervirens; the twigs are weakly 4-angled, but it isn't a very conspicuous feature.
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    No, I wouldn't expect these to be 'Curly Locks' either.
     

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