Rhodotypos scandens – Black Jet Bead

After resigning myself to another soggy day I was overjoyed (and over-dressed) when the damp start turned into real, proper sunshine which lasted for the whole morning.  Result!  Then the rain showers arrived and so did a flock of feeding hirundines.  A Birdwatchers Pocket Companion in hand, I tried to identify who exactly was swooping and soaring with such abandon.  Well I positively (well as positive as you when the gang refused to stop still for a positive ID) identified House Martins, Swallows and Swifts.  A mixed bunch all taking advantage of the bug fest, fantastic, very special thing to see.

I grew this Rhodotypos scandens from seed.  I don’t want a round of applause (OK if you must) but I just want to point out that you don’t always have to wait an eternity to obtain a good flowering sized specimen.  This deciduous shrub originates from Japan and China and is in the Rosaceae family.  It is unusual as it has opposite as opposed to alternative leaves and four not five petals, which are a couple of the usual defining features of this family.  It is one of my favorite early bloomers, in its understated simple glory.  It has serrated mid green leaves, pure white flowers and of course jet black beads of fruit in the autumn.  It is also one of the most accommodating plants you are likely to meet – shade or sun; will tolerate pollution, poor dry soils, hack backs, you name it nothing seems to phase this plant.  It is also remarkably resistant to most pests and disease.  All these characteristics, added to the fact that it is prone to suckering, why hasn’t it taken over the world?  No idea, answers on a postcard please.


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