Duranta erecta ‘Sweet Memories’ (Pigeon Berry, Golden Dewdrop, Skyflower)
Growing in our garden are two of the commonest cultivars – Duranta erecta ‘Sweet Memories’ with stunning purple flowers with contrasting white centres and wavy white borders on petals’ edges, and Duranta erecta ‘Alba’ with sweet white flowers. Hmm…I wonder whether ‘Geisha Girl’ is a synonym for ‘Sweet Memories’ or is it a different cultivar with deep violet-blue flowers?
Duranta erecta ‘Sweet Memories’ is the much favoured between the two cultivars! A scrambling shrub that is a prolific bloomer and produces golden berries in great abundance! Such a delight watching its gorgeous cascading clusters of purple flowers amongst its hanging bunches of golden berries displayed simultaneously, resting on our chain-link fence for support! It does need heavy prunning occasionaly though to maintain tidiness and shaped as a compact bush. :D
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
- Botanical Name: Duranta erecta ‘Geisha Girl’ or ‘Sweet Memories’ (synonym: Duranta repens, Duranta plumieri, Duranta ellisia)
- Common Name: Pigeon Berry, Golden Dewdrop, Skyflower
- Family name: Verbenaceae
- Etymology: The genus Duranta is named after the fifteenth century Italian botanist, Castore Durantes, while the specific epithet erecta means ‘upright’ in Latin.
- Origin: Native from Southern Florida to Mexico and Tropical South America, and the Caribbean. It is popularly cultivated in the tropical and subtropical regions worldwide
- Plant type: Outdoor ornamental shrub
- Features: This fast growing shrub can easily reach between 1.5-3 m (5-10 ft) tall and just as wide. It usually forms a sprawling shrub with drooping and trailing branches, or sometimes tree-like though rarely seen. Foliage is semi-deciduous with lush-green shiny ovate leaves that are sometimes toothed.
Flowers are produced in clusters on the terminal growth of its graceful and weeping branches. These delicately fragranced flowers (individual flower measuring 12.7 mm / 0.5 in across) in colours of deep violet-blue or purple, sky blue or white, bloom almost all year round in spring, summer and autumn and throughout the year in the tropics.
Duranta repens produces golden-orange berries in hanging bunches too. A very showy shrub with flowers and berries on the plant at the same time! Its pretty flowers attract bees and butterflies and its bright golden berries are relished by birds.
Some regions, such as Australia, China, South Africa and several Pacific Islands, have considered this showy shrub as an invasive species.
Warning: Be aware that these attractive Duranta repens’s berries and leaves are toxic and have been found fatal to humans, animals and possibly pet birds. Read about its poisoning to 9 dogs and a cat.
- Culture (Care): Duranta erecta or Golden Dewdrop is such an easy-to-grow plant and needs little maintenance.
Light: Prefers full sun, though tolerates semi-shade.
Moisture: Needing moderate water, regularly.
Soil: Grow best in moist, but well drained and moderately fertile soil in container or ground.
Others: With a sprawling growth habit, Duranta erecta ‘Sweet Memories’ will definitely require regular thinning and pruning to keep it under control and encourage bushiness so that with more new growth (branches), you’ll get more flowers. Generally, it’s free of serious pests and diseases.
For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 8a-11. Read here for more plant facts. It is sensitive to frost and extremely cold winters that can kill the shrub to the ground. However, it may recover and ‘return to live’ when warmer weather approaches in spring.
- Propagation: Propagate from seeds or from semi-hard stem cuttings.
- Usage: It’s great as a beautiful and fragrant hedge or screen (borders). Since it flowers young, it’s excellent as a lovely container plant on the patio, deck or garden porch! It can easily be trained as a bonsai or topiary for decorative purposes. It can also be grown on a trellis as a semi-vine. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds especially the hummingbirds as a nectar plant. Lovely too if you like photographing these beauties! I do! ;)
We love that the Golden Dewdrop can be so easily propagated from stem cuttings and does not require any rooting solution at all! Just push a few 5″-8” long stem cuttings into the soil and it’ll sprout new leaves, branches and blooms very quickly in a short period of time! Great as gifts to neighbours and friends or exchanges with other gardeners for their seedlings! ;)
I’ve read that the golden fruits were great food for birds such as songbirds, but were skeptical that they ever attracted any kind of bird, seeing our abundant fruits untouched and still heavily bunched for months on end! However, about a month ago I was pleasantly surprised by at least two dozen starlings that were accompanied by some sparrows feasting ravenously on them! I hastened to get my camera hoping for a precious capture of their activity, but in a jiffy they had disappeared with bellies filled! Anyway, it gave me an excuse to prune my shrub which was almost stripped-empty of its golden dewdrops!! Hehe…sometimes it’s such a problem doing the necessary…pruning, I mean…when the flowers and berries are still greeting you with their happy faces!! :)
Duranta erecta ‘Alba’ which is also grown in a container in our garden, is just as lovely with pure white flowers.
It is a more erect bush, seemingly the hardiest of Sky flowers and can shoot skywards unhindered very easily. Like the ‘Sweet Memories’, it flowers abundantly and produces golden berries too, though not as much as the former.
I’ve just got acquainted with names and description of other duranta cultivars, not knowing that there were those with lovely variegated foliage too. How immense and magnificent is God’s creation of beauty and nature!
Other external links:
Updated May 30 & June 1, 2007 -
Here’s sharing images of a butterfly and a bee nectaring on the Pigeon Berry’s flowers!
And today too, I discovered a pair of
White-browed Bulbuls feasting on the
berries of Duranta repens ‘Alba’
as shown in the left photo.
Sorry that the image is quite blurry
as shot from quite a distance and
picture was cropped!
How blessed to see these garden visitors! :D
Updated September 28, 2008 -
Sharing some photos of our potted Duranta repens ‘Alba’,
captured a few months ago.
Last edited: June 20 2011