These tender flowering shrubs feature glossy green leaves arranged in pairs or whorls along stems. Attractive blue or white flowers in clusters attract butterflies in summer, are followed by bunches of berrylike yellow fruit. Plants marketed as D. stenostachya are often actually D. erecta; distinguishing characteristics are described below. Use as quick, tall screen. Thrive in heat. Need continual thinning and pruning to stay under control. Good container plants.
D. erecta (D. repens, D. plumieri). SKY FLOWER, GOLDEN DEWDROP, PIGEON BERRY. Native to southern Florida, West Indies, Mexico to Brazil. Fast growing to 1025 ft. tall, 610 ft. wide. Tends to form multistemmed clumps; branches often drooping and vinelike. Stems may or may not have sharp spines. Oval to roundish leaves are 12 in. long, rounded or pointed at tip. Tubular violet-blue flowers flare to less than in. wide; they are followed by waxy yellow berries in clusters 16 in. long. 'Alba' has white flowers. 'Cuban Gold' ('Goldii') has leaves in shades of lime-green and gold. 'Sweet Memories' is thornless, with flower petals edged in white. 'Geisha Girl' ('Sapphire Swirl') and 'Sapphire Showers' also have purple flowers edged with white. 'Golden Edge' has brilliant gold leaves with a streak of dark green down the center; often grown as an annual in areas where it isn't hardy. 'Sheena's Gold' is the revesegreen leaves with golden centers. The golden-leafed 'Aurea' is a drought-tolerant dwarf form reaching only 2 ft. high.
D. stenostachya. BRAZILIAN SKY FLOWER. Native to Brazil. Not as hardy as D. erecta; seems to require more heat. Makes neater, more compact shrub than D. erecta, growing to about 46 ft. tall, 35 ft. wide (under ideal conditions, 15 ft. high). Stems do not have spines. Leaves are larger (38 in. long) than those of D. erecta and taper to a long, slender point. Lavender-blue flowers are also somewhat larger; fruit clusters grow to 1ft.long.