x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Plant Library: Leucophyllum frutescens

A practical guide to gardening in the UAE. This week: Texas ranger, or barometer bush.

Leucophyllum frutescens
Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens - Texas ranger, Texas sage, barometer bush

Like many plants that have adapted to life in hot, dry places, leucophyllum has silver-coloured, felt-like foliage that's covered with thousands of tiny hairs. It's an extremely tough plant that features in many landscapes in the UAE, where it is mainly grown as densely vegetated, close-clipped hedges. Its more open, natural habit is arguably even more attractive and when allowed to grow like this, its shape resembles oversized rosemary. Small lavender flowers appear in the leaf axils and in its native Texan/Mexican habitat these appear briefly in response to rain, hence the name barometer bush. In the UAE it seems to respond best to pruning, with flowers appearing on new growth. Widely available, leucophyllum can also be propagated by soft wood cuttings.