Breynia disticha (Snow Bush)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0151
  • Botanical Name: Breynia disticha 'Roseopicta'
  • Common Name: Snowbush, Snow bush, Ice-Cream Bush, Calico Plant, Sweetpea Bush, Foliage Flower Shrub, Laukalakoa (Hawaiian)
  • Cultivar: 'Roseopicta' is likely the cultivar seen in the images on this page.
  • Family: Phyllanthaceae

Breynia disticha
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: Vanuatu and New Caledonia 

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Treelet, Shrub
    • Texture: Dense
    • Form: Upright-broad to even Weeping/Irregular, but usually seen trimmed into a hedge
    • Height (on average, in landscape use): 2'- 4' (can reach 10' in ideal conditions)
    • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1 to 1:2
    • Growth Rate: Medium to Fast
    • Landscape Values: Accent, Background, Border, Color, Edging, Facer, Filler, Foundation, Framing, Hedge, Mass, Quick Effect, Specimen
    • Outstanding Quality: Foliage Color

    Breynia disticha between a fence and sidewalk
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: Gray Green to Dark Green calyx with six lobes; flowers arise in the axil. monecious with female flowers near the tips of branches and male flowers nearer the primary stem. Inconspicuous and rather peculiar.   
    Breynia disticha flower
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Fruits: small, fleshy, capsule with 6 seeds.
    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Mottled White, Bright Pink, Red, Maroon, Bright Medium Green and Dark Green. Mature:  Dark Green to Blue-Green
    • Foliage Tip: Rounded
    • Foliage Base:  Rounded to Obtuse
    • Petiole: 0.1"-0.2"
    • Stipules: N/A
    • Margins: Smooth
    • Leaf Arrangement: Distichous.
    • Leaf Shape:  elliptic to ovate
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: Ribbed, waxy, relatively thin
    • Leaf Special Notes: Mottled bright medium green, bright pink, maroon, red, and white leaves especially on new growth. Exceptional colors. The specific epithet comes from the leaf arrangement.
    Breynia disticha
    Photo by Matthew Gaston


    • Bark and Trunk:  New growth is bright pink and matures to red and maroon then light brown and/or dark brown.


    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
      • Soil Preferences: Loam, Organic, Moist, Dry (Mesic), Dry (Xeric), Well-Drained.
      • Tolerances: Salt Air, Humidity, Regular Watering
      • Water Requirements: Requires high soil moisture
      • Notes on Maintenance: The vivid pinks, reds, and violets are enhanced and brought out by bright sunlight. This plant will grow in semi-sun and part shade even, but the colors may not be as vibrant and appealing. This plant is often hedged, which allows for the colorful new growth to come forth. Roots spread and send up new plantlets, making this a pesky plant if not contained. Often planted near sidewalks or in containers, the spreading roots are not an issue in these cases. 
      • Propagation: Division
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 11a
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -5, Low Risk

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