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Duranta

Verbenaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries, Flowers

Durantas produce glossy green leaves arranged in pairs or whorls along the stems. The attractive blue flowers are borne in clusters and draw butterflies in summer. They are followed by bunches of berrylike yellow fruit. Plants sold as D. stenostachya are often actually D. erecta; distinguishing characteristics are described in that entry. Use as a quick, tall screen. They thrive in hot-summer areas; need continual thinning and pruning to stay under control.

Duranta erecta (photo courtesy of Susan A. Roth)
Duranta erecta (photo courtesy of Susan A. Roth)

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Duranta erecta

Native to southern Florida, West Indies, Mexico to Brazil. Fast growing to 10–25 ft. tall, 6–10 ft. wide. Tends to form multistemmed clumps; branches often drooping and vinelike. Stems may or may not have sharp spines. Oval to roundish leaves are rounded or pointed at the tip. Tubular violet-blue flowers flare to less than 1/2 in. wide. Waxy yellow berries in clusters 1–6 in. long. ‘Alba’ has white flowers. ‘Sweet Memory’ is thornless, with flower petals edged in white. ‘Geisha Girl’ (‘Sapphire Swirl’) and ‘Sapphire Showers’ also have purple flowers edged with white. ‘GoldMound’, only 1 1/2 ft. high and wide, has brilliant gold leaves; it rarely flowers but is excellent for adding color to container plantings.

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