A Little Known Landis Treasure: Buckleya distichophylla

We thought you’d enjoy this arti­cle, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in the Fall 1990 issue of The Newslet­ter, because it fea­tures just one of the many unique fea­tures of the Lan­dis Arbore­tum. It was writ­ten by Direc­tor Pamela Rowling. 

The accom­pa­ny­ing draw­ing is by long-time mem­ber and sup­port­er, Anne Jaster.

San­dal­wood, aro­mat­ic and sweet smelling, is per­haps the best known mem­ber of the pre­dom­i­nant­ly trop­i­cal plant fam­i­ly San­ta­laceae. Uncom­mon in tem­per­ate regions, this group is rep­re­sent­ed in the grow­ing col­lec­tions of the George Lan­dis Arbore­tum by Buck­leya dis­ti­chophyl­la. Buck­leya is named in hon­or of S. B. Buck­ley, Amer­i­can botanist who lived from 1809 to 1884.

This genus encom­pass­es five species. B. dis­to­chophyl­la is spring green, decid­u­ous and bears its slen­der leaves oppo­site along slen­der arch­ing stems. The plant is said to reach an even­tu­al height of 12 feet; how­ev­er, old spec­i­mens at the gar­den have only attained 6 – 7 feet in height. Plants are dioe­cious: the flow­ers of both sex­es are green and incon­spic­u­ous. Female blooms are soli­tary, while the male flow­ers are small­er and borne in ter­mi­nal umbels. 

​A fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of Buck­leya is that it is a root only” par­a­site and must be grown in close prox­im­i­ty to its host plant Tsuga (hem­lock). The matur­ing ovary forms a green drupe, pecu­liar in its char­ac­ter­is­tic of allow­ing only one ovule to devel­op and that this resul­tant seed lacks a seed coat. Buck­leya is prop­a­gat­ed by seed which, as pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, must be grown near a hem­lock. In our lim­it­ed expe­ri­ence, the asso­ci­a­tion does not severe­ly ham­per the host plant.

Our spec­i­mens are found grow­ing in the flat area just above the Quar­ry Rock Gar­den. A two-foot spec­i­men was recent­ly spot­ted grow­ing as a vol­un­teer in the wood­land area by the Meet­ing House. Buck­leya is grown in col­lec­tions pri­mar­i­ly as a nov­el­ty: its light, open appear­ance and Granny Smith apple green” leaf col­or make it quite appeal­ing. Its abil­i­ty to grow in rel­a­tive­ly deep shade height­ens the col­or con­trast of its foliage.

Look for this plant on your next Arbore­tum visit.

Fall 2018

Volume 36 , Number 4

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Oct 07, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

The Landis community mourns the loss of Anne Donnelly on October 4, 2023

Anne Donnelly was the first of the many friends I’ve made at the Arboretum and... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Fred Breglia, Executive Director

From the Director’s Desk: Update on the Big Tree Search

Landis Arboretum has successfully kicked off its most recent Big Tree Search, and the tree... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Erin McKenna Breglia

From the Garden: Your Autumn Garden Must Haves!

It’s certainly been a rainy summer, but the rain has helped keep our plants green... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

Landis Portraits: A Series About the People Behind the Plants at the Arboretum - Chuck Mueller

Chuck Mueller Volunteering, Chuck Mueller said, “is something you have to believe in . ... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

Volunteers Celebrate Meeting House Renovation

Shawn Bevins, Jim Paley, Craig Blevins, Fred Breglia, and Peter Bakal On a Sunday afternoon... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Sam McClary

Apples and Man: A Book Review

Apples and Man, by Fred Lape “Apples and Man,” written by Arboretum founder Fred Lape... read more

News Archive