Genus: Polyspora (formally Gordonia).
Common Name: Fried Egg Plant, Gordonia.
Etymology: Gordonia commemorating James Gordon, an eighteenth-century London nurseryman. Polyspora: species from East Asia were transferred to this new Genus. axillaris: meaning borne in the axil, referring to the position of the flowers in the axils of the leaves.
Origin: China, Hong Kong.
Description: Small to medium long-lived evergreen tree 3-5m tall. Usually with short single trunk and several branches, forming an irregular crown.
Foliage: Alternate, oblanceolate, 100-150mm x 30-60mm, margin mostly entire, serrate at the apex, shiny dark green with pale mid rib.
Bark/Trunk: Pale brown, shedding in irregular patches to expose paler bark beneath.
Flowers: Rotate, 100-120mm across, singly or in small clusters with 5 white crinkled petals and many golden stamens in the centre of the flower. Flowering mainly between autumn to early spring. Tree is in the same family as Camellias although flowers drop (before going brown on plant) landing on the ground stamen up.
Fruit: A dark brown capsule 30-40mm x 15mm, ripening in winter.
Growth Requirements: Prefers well drained acid soils that are high in organic matter, but will tolerate most soils as long as they are well drained. Full sun (particularly for flowering) to part shade avoiding the harsh westerly sun that will cause leaves to yellow. Will tolerate light frosts when established but needs protection when young. Best climate ranges from cool/temperate to warm/temperate regions.
Uses: Small street tree (although can be messy when flowering), small shade tree, screen, bird attracting, bee attracting.
Propagation: Seed or Semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late summer or autumn in coarse well drained propagation mix. Can also be grown from cutting (semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late summer or autumn).
Sources of Information:
- Own horticultural notes.
- Photography by Simon Schubert & Minako Howarth.