The profile of Pittosporum ‘Silver Queen’ in issue 153 mentioned that it occurred as a sport of Pittosporum tenuifolium and could reach more than 30 feet. At the opposite end of the height spectrum is another Irish cultivar of the same parent, Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Nutty’s Leprechaun’ which originated at the nursery of the late Fred Nutty, an honorary member of our Society, at Malahide, Co Dublin.
Pittosporum is in the main, a genus of dioecious plants, meaning that individuals are either male or female, though there is an element of gender fluidity. In gardens where more than one Pittosporum tenuifolium is grown, there can be a variable seed crop and it is not unusual in larger gardens to find a carpet of seedlings underneath mature plants.
Fred Nutty collected seed at Malahide Castle from Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Purpureum’ and, from the seedlings, he selected one that showed promise. ‘Nutty’s Leprechaun’ is a slow growing plant of rounded habit with new foliage in green, deepening to purple as the summer progresses. A Heritage of Beauty informs us that the original plant was only about a metre tall after 15 years of growth, a perfect plant choice for a smaller garden. Sadly, it is now rarely available from nurseries.
For those of us who grow more than a single Pittosporum, it is worth searching the ground for self sown seedlings where you might be fortunate enough to find another cultivar with promise.
(As appeared in Newsletter 155, April 2022. Text and photo courtesy of Brendan Sayers)