Wrightia antidysenterica (Snowflake, Milky Way, Arctic Snow) -
- Botanical Name: Wrightia antidysenterica (synonym: Holarrhena pubescens)
- Common Name: Snowflake, Milky Way, Arctic Snow, Winter Cherry Tree, Sweet Indrajao, Pudpitchaya, Hyamaraca
- Family name: Apocynaceae
- Plant type: A perennial ornamental small tree or shrub, native to Sri Lanka.
- Light: Prefers bright light or full sun; Can tolerate partial shade but will result in less flowers.
- Moisture: Regular watering and moderately.
- Soil: Well-drained loamy soil.
- Propagation: By stem cuttings. (I’ve tried stem cuttings without success. However, Rand in his comments below and here have shown this method is possible with patience). Marcotting or air layering may be the other alternative method of propagation, especially for difficult-to-root stem.
- Features: Wrightia antidysenterica is a small and compact semi-deciduous shrub, reaching 1.2-2 meters in height, with a spread of about 1.5 meter.
A moderate grower with several short and divaricate branches that turn chocolaty brown as it ages, and adorned with dark green, ovate and acuminate leaves (2.5-6cm long) that are oppositely arranged. And, pure white tubular 5-petaled flowers with yellow centers appear in corymb-like cymes at the end of branches. The Snowflake or Milky Way as commonly known, is a beautiful shrub that will be studded with showy 2.5-3.5cm star-shaped flowers all year round.
There is a related species, Wrightia tinctoria, whose blooms look quite identical.
- Usage: Wrightia antidysenterica will be most ideal as a container specimen for patio or houseplant. Excellent too for planting on ground in limited garden space and will brighten any garden corner with those starry white blooms that resemble snow flakes or little stars from afar.
Besides, in India, it is considered a medicinal plant. The bark has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is used as an adulterant for the well known drug, Holarrhena antidysenterica. The juice from its bark is used for the relief of mouth sores and its leaves are used for the treatment of several skin disorders, psoriasis and other non-specific dermatitis.
- Care: Wrightia antidysenterica is quite a low maintenance plant. As long as it receives sufficient bright light or sunshine, regular watering and occasional fertilizing, it will reward you with profuse blooming and luscious green foliage. Requires minimal pruning and it is least bothered by pests and diseases!
- For temperate zones: Hardiness – USDA Zone 10a, 10b and 11. More information here
I love that our potted Wrightia antidysenterica flowers unceasingly throughout the year in our tropical garden. Their snowy white flowers are so simple in form, yet so attractive in sheer numbers and in lovely contrast amidst their dark green foliage, which makes the blooms seem even whiter! A delightful compact shrub, so suited for our little garden space! :)
Last edited: 23rd November 2012