Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

10 Mar

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb' Pruned (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ Pruned (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist,well drained

Flowering period: Summer

Eventual Height: 60cm

Eventual Spread: 60cm

Hardiness: 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a

Family: Pittosporaceae

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ is an evergreen shrub with a low, stout, bushy habit. Its foliage, borne on black stems, is wavy margined and thinly leathery, when young the leaves are a bright green and when mature it becomes flushed bronze-purple. It bears bell shaped, honey scented, black-red flowers that are followed by spherical woody fruits. These gray-black capsules then split open to reveal the reeds embedded in the sticky pulp.

The species Pittosporum tenuifolium is native to New Zealand where it is known by the Maori names Kohuhu or Kohukohu. The species grows wild in the coastal and lower mountain forests of both the North and South islands up to an altitude of 900m.

The etymological root of the binomial name Pittosporum is derived from the Greek pitte meaning ‘tar’ and sporos meaning ‘seed’, describing the sticky seed capsules. Tenuifolium is a Latin translation meaning ‘thinly leaved’. ‘Tom Thumb’ is in reverence to Charles Sherwood Stratton, a famous dwarf performer who went by the stage name General Tom Thumb.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb' Leaf (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ Leaf (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’  is useful to the landscape architect for its year round colour, architectural habit and fragrant flowers. This shrub prefers a sheltered position. As it requires little maintenance it is suitable for positions where maintenance is an issue.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ needs little maintenance. Any formative pruning or the removal of damaged branches should be carried out in mid spring.

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