Pittosporum ‘Silver Queen’

Pittosporum is a genus of approximately 200 species mainly native to Australia and
New Zealand. Less than 20 species are commonly cultivated as ornamentals. Those
grown in gardens are chosen for the evergreen foliage which ranges from glossy
green through variegated forms to those with deep purple foliage. An added
advantage is that pruning and shaping can be done as stems are cut for flower
arrangements. It is only in the colder of our gardens that Pittosporum will not thrive.
One of the finest cultivars is a selection of Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Queen’.
Charles Nelson has written of this plant in A Heritage of Beauty, and though
previously thought to have occurred as a sport in the Slieve Donard Nursery it is
most probable that it had occurred in the Castlewellan Estate, Co. Down and was
propagated and marketed by the Nursery.

This specimen is from the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. Photo courtesy of Andrew Gee

Pittosporum ‘Silver Queen’ makes a large shrub or small tree with undulated leaves
of a pale silvery-green edged with white. The flowers are small and hidden by the
foliage but they are honey scented, more so in the evening. It is probably the most
common variegated ornamental shrub in Irish gardens and attained an Award of
Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1914. It is an excellent choice to
brighten up a dull corner.

More detailed accounts can be found in An Irish Flower Garden (1984), The Glory of
Donard (1993) and An Irish Flower Garden Replanted (1997).




(As appeared in Newsletter 153, September 2021. Text and main image by Brendan Sayers)