Embossed color/colour photograph by J. McCombie.
Clerodendrum ugandense, Rotheca myricoides … otherwise known as Blue Butterfly Bush, Blue Glorybower, Oxford Bush or Cambridge Bush … is an open and sprawling evergreen shrub that gets up to 10 feet (3 m) tall and wide, but is easily kept much smaller. It has opposite leaves that are egg shaped, strongly toothed and about 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm) long. The inflorescences, borne at the ends of long arching branches, are panicles 4-10 inches (10-25.4 cm) long composed of individual flowers about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, each with three pale blue lobes and one violet blue lobe. Striking for the long whisker like stamens reaching out from the two-tone flowers. The foliage is deep green and solid. The flowers look like little butterflies in two different shades of blue and are produced more or less continuously throughout the summer and fall.
There are more than 400 species of Clerodendrum. The members of this diverse genus occur naturally in tropical and subtropical Asia, Africa, Kenya and Uganda, and include evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants. Tubeflower, also called Turk’s turban, (C. indicum) is a roadside weed now established in the southeastern US, and Cashmere bouquet (C. bungei) is a nuisance invasive weed in South Florida – it is pretty though. Among the many beautiful ornamental Clerodendrums are flaming glorybower (C. splendens) and pagoda flower (C. paniculata).
The genus name comes from the Greek: dendron, tree; and kleros, chance, a reference to the varied medicinal properties purported for some members of the genus. C. trichotomum, from China, has been shown to lower high blood pressure, and is prescribed in Chinese herbal medicine for a variety of ailments.