Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ (White Mussaenda, Tropical Dogwood, Virgin Tree)
- Botanical Name: Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ (named after Dona Aurora, wife of a former President of the Philippines)
- Common Name: Mussaenda, White Mussaenda, Tropical Dogwood, Virgin Tree
- Family name: Rubiaceae
- Plant type: Tropical shrub or sub-shrub originated from Philippines
- Light: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate semi-shade
- Moisture: Needs regular water but do not overwater
- Soil: Grows best in well-drained loamy soil.
- Propagation: From softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings and very rarely from seeds
- Features: Mussaenda is a tropical shrub or sub-shrub reaching 10 feet tall, though can be trained as a single specimen of 5 feet on ground or less than 3 feet in containers. Each flower is composed of an inconspicuous small tubular five-petalled corolla in orangy-yellow and five greatly enlarged sepals (bracts).
It is really these showy corymbs of white or off-white enlarged leaf-like sepals that contrast beautifully against their dark green elliptic to ovate leaves that are the attention grabber.
- Usage: White Mussaenda or Virgin Tree as commonly known can be grown as ornamental in parks and public gardens or along roadsides, byways and highways. Use in landscaping, this plant serves well as a decorative specimen with its showy blooms and would fit beautifully in home gardens too! Attractive to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and insect pollinators as a nectar plant.
- Care: It is best to prune the Mussaenda philippica after blooming to get a bushy plant, though the lower stems tend to become bare however much you prune. Sepals or bracts colour best with full sun and need it to flower continuously, though they’d prefer filtered mid-day sun in hot climates. No known serious insect or disease problems but do watch for spider mites and whiteflies on indoor plants.
- For temperate regions: Peruse this informative fact sheet on Mussaendas from the University of Florida
We’ve often times admire those gorgeous Mussaendas seen along roadsides or countryside, especially the pink cultivar known as Mussaenda philippica ‘Dona Luz’ but never thought that it’ll suit our small garden. However, sometime last August, we were introduced to this attractive white cultivar, Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ which is smaller than the pink one as informed by the nursery chap! Straightaway, we gladly adopted home this small plant of about a foot tall that already showed promises with 2 corymbs of lovely white bracts then and it had been as wonderfully showy since!
White Mussaenda is truly a year round bloomer in our tropical country and its captivating sepals are long-lasting and dominates the plant to the extent that it’s more top heavy and bottom empty, of leaves, I mean! It’s now about 4 feet tall and I think it needs a haircut which I’m terribly reluctant to carry out as the blooms have to go too! :( I must do it, otherwise it’ll bend like an old lady and break its branches when the wind is too strong and I HAVE seen it almost down many times! I must not procrastinate!! Hehe…easier said than done! ;)
November 18, 2007 – View the stunning blood-red Mussaenda erythrophylla!
November 22, 2007 – Mussaenda luteola, a third cultivar grown in our garden too.
February 22, 2008 – View a couple of recent shots of the White Mussaenda shrub
Just sharing our garden as seen in February 2010 to show how lovely the Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ (White Mussaenda) tree has flourished. We love that it provides some shade for the plants below and really illuminates the garden, especially in the late evening!
Last edited: 2011-05-24