Little White Bells

two white bells

Two White Bells

White Bell Flowers

White Bell Flowers

Pieris japonica of the Ericacaea family

These flowers live at the Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC in the partial shade garden. They weren’t overly showy, but incredibly pleasant shrubs that bloom so thick with tiny little white bells that smell just slightly sweet.

A Picky Plant Indeed
These flowers require fairly specific growing conditions like well-drained moist soil, acidic soul, full or partial shade, etc. They don’t perform well otherwise (with soil pH being a big factor for failure resulting in iron/nitrogen deficiencies). Beyond their pickiness for their home, they are also susceptible to several pests (lacewings suck the juice out of them but they are also often bothered by scale, mites or nematodes). Other diseases often cause spotting and sometimes death. They have a general slow growth rate but are still often used as decorative plants because they are an attractive evergreen shrub.

The plant, coming from the Ericacaea family is related to the better-known blueberry or the rhododendron. However, do not eat this plant! It is known to be toxic to most livestock and likely humans as well. The flowers that you see in the photos above usually develop in the late winter or early spring. In the summer there are sometimes pinkish or greenish blooms that can be seen. The fruit of the shrub is usually a 4-5 partitioned little round dried fruit which isn’t particularly noticeable. The new growth usually starts out yellow or red, then goes through chartreuse before maturing to its dark green color making it an attractive plant year round and throughout its growth cycle.

Neat side note(s): The name Pieris comes from Pierides which is often used as an alternate name forĀ  Muses of mythological fame, the goddess of the arts. The specimen does originate from Japan and the smallest varieties have been used in bonsai.

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