Luculia gratissima from the Himalayas has rose pink flowers with a strong perfume, which is often described as being somewhere between a gardenia and a vanilla fragrance. The genus name, Luculia, is the Latinised form of the Nepalese name, Luculi Swa. The species name, gratissima, is Latin for ‘most pleasing’. Luculias are evergreen shrubs with rounded, often irregular growth habits. In the wild they are said to reach 6m (20′), but in cultivation they are usually around the 3-4m (9-12′) mark. In winter scented, pink flowers appear on the ends of the stems, in large clusters up to 20cm (8″) across.

Luculia gratissima

Best climate: Mountain zones where the frosts aren’t too severe, or cooler coastal areas. Protect from frost.

Luculia pinceana アッサムニオイザクラ(ルクリア)from Nepal is not as well known as  Luculia gratissima, but it is certainly worth searching for. It only grows about 3 metres high and has compact rosy pink tubular flowers in a tight head much like a hydrangea. The flowers have a very sweet, delicious musk-jasmine fragrance that can be smelled up to 15 metres away. While it is usually an evergreen shrub, in cooler climates it will become semi-deciduous. It is frost tender to 5 degrees, it is best grown in a warm sheltered position, filtered light in slightly acidic soils rich in organic material, but needs considerable summer watering. It can be propagated by seed sown in spring, or soft tip cuttings taken in late spring. It is an ideal addition to a garden where rhododendrons and camellias already successfully grow.

Luculia pinceana flowers are called assam nioizakura (sweet-smelling sakura)


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