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. Sadje says:

    Beautiful shots.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Sadje.

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome

  2. restlessjo says:

    An interesting one, Jude. Love the seedy things!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Different for sure and the pearls are pretty. I wonder if birds eat the berries?

  3. margaret21 says:

    Oooh, I don’t think I know this one. I’m guessing it wouldn’t love being in Yorkshire.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s not keen on it being too cold, but can be kept in a conservatory.

      1. margaret21 says:

        Haven’t got one of those …

  4. Rosie Amber says:

    What beautiful flowers it has.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Unusual, but not attractive to pollinators it seems.

  5. The flowers remind me of Fuchsia buds…do they open at all? How do pollinators get in?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Hi Chris, the flowers are open at the bottom, they are quite firm with a waxy texture. I actually have never see any pollinators on them.

  6. First a glorious blaze of red, then little pearls. Wonderful! However, if it won’t grow in Yorkshire, then it certainly wouldn’t grow in northern New England, in Maine. 😉

    1. Heyjude says:

      Not unless you have a conservatory or greenhouse 😑

      1. And I have neither. 😉 Guess I’ll have to admire them from afar.

  7. bushboy says:

    A hard colour to dress a garden. I am surprised at the difficulty in growing from seed as there seems to be a lot in a pod

    1. Heyjude says:

      Coming from Chile they probably need a particular environment.

  8. Those red “lanterns” look to me more like Bleeding Hearts. And what a surprise to see pearls peeking from cracked hulls. Delightful.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s quite an exotic looking shrub.

  9. beetleypete says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen or heard of that tree, Jude. But I like it a lot.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s interesting and lovely when it flowers well like this year.

  10. I saw the seed ‘dangles’ on a tree in Moville, Ireland and thought they looked like earrings, especially when the pearl-like seeds burst out. It’s wonderful to see them at other times of the year, and finally find out what it is.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s quite a curiosity. I like how the dangling flowers move in the breeze.

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