Friday, September 14, 2012

Turnera ulmifolia

Turnera ulmifolia (TERN-er-uh  ul-miff-FOLE-lee-uh) is an ever-blooming shrub that thrives in subtropical gardens. The bright yellow flowers each last only a day, but new flowers are continuously produced. The plant grows about 3 feet tall in a single season and requires very little care. It is drought-tolerant and thrives in nearly all soil types. The dark green leaves are usually about 2-4 inches in length and the flowers are about 2 inches in diameter.

Turnera ulmifolia is sometimes called yellow alder, but it is not an alder so that is a poor choice for a common name. There's really no reason to call it anything other than Turnera. It is native to the Caribbean and is recommended for USDA Zones 9-11. A hard freeze may knock it back to ground level, but it will quickly recover when the weather warms. In colder locations it can be grown as an annual. The plant reseeds itself easily and you're likely to find seedlings coming up all around the garden. The seedlings are easily identified by the distinctive leaf, so they can be pulled, transplanted, or allowed to remain where they sprout, depending on your preference.
Although you may find seedlings coming up in random locations, they generally aren't prolific enough to become weedy. The flowers attract butterflies, especially Gulf Fritillaries and Sulphurs.


Sunchowder said...

So pretty Jim! Are you selling these at the Co-op?

Grower Jim said...

I don't currently have any for sale, but possibly in the spring I'll have some available!

David The Good said...

I've seen this plant but didn't know the name. Very cool.

I've also noticed the butterflies love Bidens Alba (the "Shepherd's Needle" weed that grows all over Florida). I left a big patch in my backyard and it's become an impromptu butterfly hang-out.