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Native Garden

Varnish leaf

Varnish leaf

Dodonaea viscosa

  • Common Name: Varnish Leaf (other common names: Hopbush, A’ali’i, Hopweed, Candlewood, Sanatha, Casol, Native Hops, Laumpuaye, Togovao, Switch Sorrel, Tree Switch Sorrel, Wedge Leaf Hopbush, Chapoliztle, Hop Shrub, Hopseed Bush, Florida Hopbush)
  • Scientific Name: Dodonaea viscosa
  • Family Name: Sapindaceae
  • Origin: native to Florida
  • Height: 6’ – 15’
  • Width: 10’ – 15’
  • Growth: moderate - fast
  • Zone: 9B - 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun
  • Salt Tolerance:  unknown
  • Soil/PH/Texture: likes light (sandy) soils and prefers well-drained soil, mildly acidic – mildly alkaline (pH 6.1 – 7.8)
  • Soil Moisture: Mesic/Dry Mesic/Dry regular watering – moist, but do not over water.
  • Drought Tolerance: high and humidity tolerant
  • Pests/Diseases: No pests or diseases are of major concern.
  • Growing Conditions: easy to grow and low maintenance
  • Characteristics: The shiny green leaves of this shrub have a varnished appearance that gives this plant its most widely used common name. Leaves vary in shape from spatulate to elliptic or obovate. The flowers are Chartreuse (green – yellow) - Burgundy, under 1”, without true petals and appear in terminal clusters that are 3 inches in length and appear mid spring – mid fall. These emerge green, turn yellow green, then pink and red, and then brown as they mature. The pendant fruit are three-parted seed pods that have 3 or 4 rounded wings.
  • Propagation: self-fertile from seed, (this plant is dioecious so both male and female plants must be grown for seed to be produced).
  • Wildlife: attracted to bees, butterflies, and bees
  • Facts: The leaves and roots contain saponins so their use is not advisable to swallow, but the leaves can be chewed for toothaches if the juice is not swallowed and for other medicinal purposes. The hard wood has been known to be made into weapons and also used for medicinal applications. Fruits have been used as a substitute for hops and yeast in making beer.
  • Designer Considerations: use as a tree or shrub, windbreak, screen, hedge, specimen, or accent plant.