azara-microphyllaThis broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree is native to Chile and Argentina where it grows in the understory or margins of woodlands. The glossy, dark green, oval leaves are up to one inch long and are carried on horizontal branches arranged in a herringbone pattern. The yellow flowers lack petals but appear fluffy because of their long stamens. They are borne in clusters in the axils of the leaves in February or March and emit a delicious fragrance described as chocolate or vanilla. In warm years when pollination occurs the flowers may be followed by small round berries that mature to orange. Good choice for informal hedge or screen but also grows well on a wall where it gets protection from wind.

Type: Evergreen shrub to small tree

Outstanding Feature: Evergreen leaves; fragrant flowers in winter to early spring

Form: Fountain-shape

Growth Rate: Slow to moderate

Bloom: Small fluffy flowers in February or March

Size: 12-18’ H x 8-12’ W

Light: Full sun to dappled shaded

Soil: Fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil but tolerates less as long as soil dries out or is wet.

Hardiness: Zones 8-10

Care: Needs protection from cold winds; prune every few years to maintain compactness

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Cuttings of mature side shoots in autumn or layering; both methods are difficult.

Outstanding Selection: ‘Variegata’ (leaves lined with cream; slow growing)

By Karen