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Leatherleaf - a Native Plant for Polinators

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio
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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Durant Ashmore, although a landscape architect and nurseryman by trade, is a naturalist at heart. Recently he brought a native plant to Making It Grow that should be used more in home gardens as it blooms relatively early in the year and is important to those native pollinators that begin foraging when temperatures reach fifty-five degrees. Cyrilla racemiflora, titi or leatherleaf, is a large shrub, which I first saw lining the banks of the pond at Sesqui State Park on a field botany trip with John Nelson. Although it naturally occurs in moist settings with high organic matter, it grows well in my garden and as it’s aged has developed craggy, almost twisting branches. The white, occasionally pink, flowers are very showy, displayed in six-inch racemes, they resemble those of sourwood, and in mid-spring they are very attractive to pollinators.  

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.