Flower Portrait: Lantern Tree

Crinodendron hookerianum known as the Chilean lantern tree, is an evergreen tree in the family Elaeocarpaceae. It is endemic to Chile. A beautiful, ornamental, evergreen shrub or small tree named after the lantern-shaped, crimson to deep carmine-pink flowers, suspended from the undersides of its branches from May to August.

Mine grows in the raised walled bed I call my ‘Woodland Border’ which stretches from outside the conservatory on the north facing side with a large barn behind it. It grows to about 10-15ft in height in the UK.

It is perfect for a partially shady woodland garden with humus-rich acid soil as it likes to keep its roots cool. I have no idea what my soil PH is (I know I should test it) but it is heavy and stony and holds moisture.

The tree / multi-stemmed shrub was here when we moved. Under the Goat Willow trees and where Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ grows.

The flower buds develop in the autumn and can readily be seen over winter. The rich crimson lantern or urn shaped fleshy flowers are grooved and toothed at the bottom.

Cold winds can cause some browning or scorching of the leaves over winter and as this is when the flowers form they can be badly affected. Last year my tree had hardly any flowers on it, but this year it is magnificent.

Beautiful lanterns, but a terrible colour clash with the clematis with its rosy-lilac sepals, each with a distinctive carmine stripe and reddish stamens.

I need to cut this back hard this year as it is not growing in a very neat shape, though that might mean the loss of flowers next year. I shall take some hardwood cuttings in July once it has stopped flowering just in case.

In early May, June and often July the tree drips with interesting bell-shaped pendant flowers like little red lanterns and then  develops seed heads that look like a pair of pearl earrings! Difficult to grow from seed and quite slow growing.

If you grow this shrub/tree and have any advice on how to prune it please let me know in the comments. Thanks.

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann Mackay says:

    That crimson is lovely and the seeds are fascinating – like little beads! 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s different. And the red brightens up a shady area.

  2. It is a beautiful plant, you are very lucky to have it. Amelia

    1. Heyjude says:

      I need to prune it hard later on to try and create a better shape, it sprawls everywhere at the moment.

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