Curious plants: Colletia paradoxa

I first ran into this plant (not literally, and you’ll understand why I didn’t want that to be the case when you see the photo) in Clive Higgie’s Paloma gardens near Wanganui but had my interest pricked (if you’ll excuse the pun) after seeing it again in the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens.

Native to Uruguay, western Argentina and southern Brazil, Colletia paradoxa is an autumn-flowering plant that, as you might guess, doesn’t have any trouble from browsing animals and grows slowly to 2m to 3m tall. The genus name honors French botanist Philibert Collet (1643-1718), while ‘paradoxa’ is from the Greek and means ‘unexpected’ or ‘strange’. The flowers have a sweet scent.

Colletia paradoxa. Photo: Sandra Simpson

What appear to be leaves are actually flattened stems which do the photosynthesis for the plant. It does have leaves but they’re not particularly noticeable and are deciduous.

The plant has many common names including Thorn of the Cross, Anchor Plant and Jet Plane Plant.

Read some growing details here.

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2 thoughts on “Curious plants: Colletia paradoxa

  1. Hi Catherine, I guess the appeal is in the eye of the beholder. I can appreciate spiky plants without necessarily liking them, but for a large number of people they are beautiful. When I’ve seen it, it mostly made me think that it would be a good hedging plant (keeping things in or out) – no browsing animal would dare force its way through. But after New Zealand’s experience with gorse one tends to keep that kind of thought to oneself!

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