Pheasant berry, or Leycesteria formosa, is native to the Himalaya and southwestern China. It is a very under-utilized shrub that is only found in a few connoisseur gardens.

Leycesteria is a vigorous, deciduous shrub grown for its pendant racemes of white flowers that are framed by showy, dark red bracts. These beautiful flowers are then followed by purple-red pendant clusters of berries in autumn, which are a huge wild-life draw.

Leycesteria has soft, hollow, upright green stems to 6 to 10 feet tall with a similar spread. The leaves are opposite, blue-green with an entire or wavy margin.

It is salt tolerant and not particular about soil type and grows throughout the UK and most of the US. It is very popular in New Zealand and the cooler parts of Australia. There is a splendid cultivar called 'Golden Lanterns' which has bright lime-yellow foliage that makes a striking contrast with the purple-bracted flowers of white result and handsome purple berries. 'Golden Lanterns' is graceful and easy growing plant with clean, bright yellow-green foliage fringed in red in the new growth. It is a fantastic plant for the perennial garden or as a bold, color-statement for the patio.

Depending on location, Leycesteria is a dieback shrub that behaves live a perennial. Extra thick mulch will keep it alive in colder climates. It is also tough, adaptable and disease and pest free, and a benefit to local wildlife.

As with so many superior plants, it may not always be easy to locate but is always worth the effort.

Pheasant berry


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