Plumbago zeylanicum (Ilie'e)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0124
  • Botanical Name: Plumbago zeylanicum
  • Common Name: Ilie'e, Ceylon Leadwort, Doctorbush, Wild Leadwort, Hawaiian Plumbago
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Plumbaginaceae
Plumbago zeylanicum 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: Pantropical (All Tropical and Sub-Tropical climates)

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Groundcover to Shrub
    • Texture: Dense
    • Form: Mat to Dome
    • Height (on average, in landscape use):  1'- 2'
    • Height to Spread Ratio: A vining, climbing, groundcover to shrub like habit. 
    • Growth Rate: Medium to Fast
    • Landscape Values: Border, Edging, Facer, Filler, Potentially Foundation, Framing, Groundcover, Mass, Erosion Control
    • Outstanding Quality: Flower, Vigorous Habit

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: White to periwinkle, heterostylous, determinate inflorescence, sticky, viscid flower shaft. Notably stickier than P. auriculate.
    Plumbago zeylanicum inflorescence
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Fruits: 0.25"-0.5", Capsule contains red to brown seeds
    • Foliage Color: Young/immature:light green. Mature: Bright medium green
    • Foliage Tip: Obtuse to Acute or Acuminate
    • Foliage Base: Attenuate
    • Petiole: Sessile (No Petiole) or 0.25"
    • Stipules: Yes
    • Margins: Smooth to slightly Undulate
    • Leaf Arrangement:  Alternate
    • Leaf Shape: obovate to oblanceolate to spathulate
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: Glabrous, smooth, waxy, relatively thin
    • Leaf Special Notes: Sessile leaves alternate and  have distinct red to brown band at each node.
    Plumbago zeylanicum
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Plumbago zeylanicum leaves and stem. Note the red marking at the node
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Plumbago zeylanicum leaf adaxial surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Plumbago zeylanicum leaf abaxial surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Herbaceous, green and darkens with growth. Red to Brown bands at each node. 

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Semi-Sun, Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances: Shade
      • Soil Preferences: Slightly Acidic, Moist, Dry (Mesic).
      • Tolerances: Not Particular, Acidic, Moderate Winds, Regular Watering, Salt, Drought once established.
      • Water Requirements: Relatively drought tolerant once established, less than moderate watering. Looks best with moderate watering.
      • Notes on Maintenance: Sticky calyx can be unpleasant. Resistant to most pests, but susceptible to aphids, white fly, mealy bugs. Blooms frequently, especially from Spring to Autumn. Naturally grows in the understory, vigorously growing for light. This plant is mist often planted in partial sun where the balance between flower density and leaf color is considered ideal, but will do fine in both shade and full sun. Full sun yields more flowers while shade renders a lower production. Because of its vigorous, low growing habit, it makes an excellent ground cover. Can be used to replace the invasive Wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata).
      • Propagation: Seeds, Cutting
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 10a
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): Hawaii Native, so no WRA

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