The Escallonia Family

Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia Red Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia

What are they?

This is a family of woody plants that is largely confined to the southern hemisphere with just a handful of species introduced into the UK as garden ornamentals. Within the family, the genus Escallonia is popular as a group of showy, evergreen, flowering shrubs and is commonly planted near the coast for hedging and screening as the plants are fairly salt tolerant. From a handful of South American species, a wide range of hybrids and named varieties have been introduced into the horticultural industry but only a few seem to have proven popular in amenity plantings.

Where are they found?

Escallonias are widely planted in gardens and amenity areas, especially near the coast, where their salt tolerance is a useful attribute in coping with coastal conditions. Occasionally a plant may be found in the wider countryside as a survivor from a previous planting or as a garden throw-out.

Identification

The highly glossy, deep green leaves of Escallonias, together with their showy, terminal clusters of five-petalled, tubular flowers are distinctive once learned and they are easily recognised as a group. However, the large number of named varieties, many of which differ only very subtly from each other, renders positive identification of some plants potentially impossible beyond the genus. However, it does appear that most plants likely to be encountered, fall within just one or two popular hybrids or species and will hopefully be identifiable by their flower shape and colour.



Red Escallonia      Escallonia rubra

Introduced from southern South America as a garden ornamental and widely planted for hedging and screening, especially near the coast. Flowers June to September. Evergreen shrubs, typically to 2-3m in height when free-growing. Stems warty-looking with glandular bumps and hairs. Petals rich red, the bases held tightly together to form a tubular appearance (though not actually fused together into a true tube).

Red Escallonia Red Escallonia Red Escallonia Red Escallonia
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Flower
Red Escallonia Red Escallonia Red Escallonia Red Escallonia
Leaves
Leaf
Leaf
Stem


Hybrid Escallonia      Escallonia x rigida

A hybrid of cultivated origin that has produced a number of named varieties. Widely planted but not yet reported from the wild. However, until recently, only Escallonia macrantha was covered in botany books and this hybrid should be kept in mind when faced with an escallonia awaiting identification. Flowers June to September. Although evergreen, many plants may drop their leaves during particularly cold winters, but soon grow them again. Hybrid Escallonia typically has slightly smaller and paler leaves and less glandular-sticky stems than Red Escallonia. The flowers open more fully when mature, with the basal part of the petals opening out rather than remaining tightly close together. Flower colour varies from deep pink to white, but most plants have a mixture of the two colours.

Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Flower
Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia Hybrid Escallonia
Petals separated at base
Leaves
Leaf
Seed capsule