In the blur of color that is spring, it is easy to be blinded by pink, yellow and white. If a gardener can see beyond these distractions, then spring's other charms become more apparent. Stauntonia hexaphylla has interesting evergreen foliage no matter what time of year and reminds me of tropical Schefflera, or of something else that will not grow here. However, when the new growth emerges in March it is a distinct amber color before it darkens to a cool blue-green. Stauntonia is listed as growing 20-30', but I saw one at Taylor's Nursery in Raleigh that had nearly reached the top of a very tall radio antenna tower. It is also listed as preferring full sun to light shade, but mine only gets winter sun being shaded by a large oak the rest of the year, and it has apparently not been slowed. I regularly have to unwrap or trim the vine from patio furniture. It is listed as hardy in USDA zones 7 to 8, and it has shown a remarkable degree of drought tolerance as well.
Though I grow it for it's foliage, it also has a flower, but mine has never bloomed. I think this may have more to do with the age of mine than the shade, because I have seen a specimen in the display garden at work flower in almost total shade. Flowers normally occur later in the spring and their delicate appearance and white pastel-purple color seem in contrast to the the vine's vigorous, near thug-like nature. I have never seen fruit on any local plant, but it is listed as having a red-purple fruit that resembles a sausage. Pictures remind me of Akebia quinata fruit, which is in the same family (Lardizabalaceae) as Stauntonia. In Japan, where this plant is native, the fruit is a prized delicacy.
|(photo from Wikipedia Commons)|