Even on a cloudy day like today, there’s no missing this eye-popping shrub. It is Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Zhuzhou Fuchsia’. Chinese Fringe-flower, a hardy member of the witchhazel family, blooms intermittently through the year, but early spring is when it really struts its stuff.
There’s a white-flowered, green-leaved form too, but why would you settle for green and white when you can have deep purple-maroon leaves and bright fuchsia flowers? Here’s a close-up of those flowers:
I got my specimen from a local arboretum about ten years ago. It was a benefit of membership, and my rooted cutting was six inches tall. It is now ten feet high and still growing. My references say ten feet is its maximum height, but judging from my experience, count on a bit more.
As you can see from the first photo, I’ve limbed up my shrub into a more tree-like form, but it will maintain branches all the way to ground level if that’s your preference. The leaves are somewhat fuzzy, making them less palatable to deer, which only take occasional spite-bites as they pass.
Heavy snows and ice storms do break some branches of this shrub, but it grows so vigorously that you can’t really see the break points by the end of the following growing season. This non-native shrub is ideal for any southeast piedmont landscape. It doesn’t attract pollinators, but it does provide dense cover for birds. A pair of cardinals nests in mine every year.
If, like me, you’re a sucker for purple-leaved plants, consider finding a spot for this shrub in your yard. It’s guaranteed to wake up any early spring landscape — even on cloudy days.