Tricuspidaria lanceolata - A Companion Plant for Rhododendron Plantings
John S. Druecker, Fort Bragg, Calif.
Of the two species, Tricuspidaria dependens and Tricuspidaria laneeolata , it is the latter which holds our interest; in my opinion it is by far the more spectacular plant of the two species.
It is a dark evergreen shrub, up to thirty feet high, lit up in May and June with hanging lanterns of solid rose crimson about an inch long.
Its native habitat is the lake region of southern coastal Chile; around Puerto Montt, the island of Chiloe, and Lake Llanquihue, between 35 and 45 south latitude. Tie climate of this region approximates the climate of 35 to 45 north latitude which includes the coast of northern California and Oregon from Monterey to Ocean Lake. In reality, I think it would grow a good deal further north than this due to the vagaries of the Japanese Current. A possible proof of this view is the fact that Embothrium coccineum , which is native of the same region, seems to do very well in Seattle. T. lanceolata was first discovered in 1848, on the island of Chiloe, by William Lobb, a plant collector for Veitchs. In the British Isles it is grown in Cornwall, northwest Scotland, southwest Scotland, and Ireland. Here in the United States I only know of it being grown in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; a few plants near Monterey, and several plants in Fort Bragg, California.
Its culture does not seem too difficult; I would say it is approximately the same as for camellias. First of all, it is a lime hater, so generous additions of conifer leaf molds or peat moss to the soil seem to be appreciated. This plant does not like its roots to get warm so it is well to keep a heavy mulch of rough leaf mold on the surface to act as an insulator. Of course as this breaks down it constantly creates more plant food. The light requirements are again about the same as for a camellia.
T. lanceolata can be propagated by cuttings of half-ripened wood three or four inches long, in sand with bottom heat in July. It can also be propagated from seed. However, the seed must be planted immediately upon ripening; or for shipping must be stratified. If the seed is left to dry even a few days it will not germinate.
The greatest enemies of T. lanceolata that I have observed are: red spider, greedy scale, and occasionally mealy bug. However, these can be controlled by an oil and nicotine spray when all the leaves are mature.
In conclusion I would say that in most rhododendron growing localities this plant would be a valuable and interesting addition to the garden.