x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Plant library: Pigeon berry

With fragrant, purple flowers that bloom year-round, this ornamental shrub grows quickly and can thrive in containers.

The lilac or purple flowers bloom year-round. Photolibrary.com
The lilac or purple flowers bloom year-round. Photolibrary.com

Golden dewdrop, skyflower, Duranta erecta This outdoor ornamental shrub is available from garden centres, souqs and plant shops throughout the UAE. It is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide thanks to its delicate mauve-blue flowers and golden-orange berries.

Fast growing, Duranta erecta will easily reach three metres in height and usually forms a sprawling shrub with drooping and trailing branches. Delicately fragrant flowers that bloom throughout the year appear in clusters on its branches in colours ranging from deep violet-blue or purple to sky blue and even white. The berries hang in bunches too, often at the same time as the flowers. Both attract bees, butterflies, and birds despite the fact that most parts of the plant are highly toxic.

Given that it flowers early and frequently, Duranta makes an excellent container or patio plant, but given its rather lax form it usually requires regular pruning or tying back to a trellis. Regular pruning will also encourage repeat flowering, as will the use of a fertiliser that is high in potassium.

Named after Castore Durante, a 16th-century Italian medic, poet and botanist, and the Latin word "erecta", meaning upright, Duranta is a native of the Caribbean and Central and South America.