The name of Pitosforo comes from the berries that characterize it. They are balls that hide fertile seeds wrapped in a resinous film. In fact, in Greek "pittosporum" means viscous seeds. This genus of arboreal and shrubby plants belongs to the family of Pittosporaceae. In addition to the berries, a characterizing element of these plants are undoubtedly the flowers that are never large and come together like leaves in bunches. Remember: the berries are not edible!
There are over 150 species of this genus of plants but in fact none are cultivated apart from six. If we restrict the field to the Italian territory, we can mention as the most cultivated and appreciated species the Pittosporum tobira, P. tenuifolium and P. heterophyllus. The first is a shrub from China, the second is instead native to New Zealand and is present in 7 varieties. The third is widespread in different areas but like the other two varieties it always blooms in spring.
Beyond the individual varieties that we will see better in a few lines, these shrubs can also reach heights of several meters, which is why if we decide to create a hedge composed of Pitosforo we must be aware of the need to carry out frequent pruning. The nice thing is that there is the possibility of sculpting them because they have a very fixed and easy to style hair. Even the individual leaves are not at all flimsy but fleshy. Small and elongated, they are dark green on the upper side with a very evident vein.
It might look like any plant were it not for its flowers which make it recognizable more for the perfume than for their appearance. They are very small and grow in bunches, usually white to yellow in color. After the flowers sprout berries which are green or orange and very woody.
Pitosforo: where it grows
It is not a plant native to our territory but it arrives from Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. In Italy it grows mainly on the Mediterranean coasts. It is an evergreen plant and is very often used on balconies and terraces but also along the avenues to compose dense hedges. Only one variety has a different use: P. tenuifolium is suitable for making bouquets of flowers.
P. tenuifolium is a particular species and what makes it special are the flowers. Let's see what characteristics they have. They appear in April and are not white as in the other cases but dark in color: brown-purple. They have a less intense aroma reminiscent of vanilla.
Its growth is not as sudden as the genus suggests and it can be pruned more rarely, this does not mean that it does not have very dense branches, covered with light and less consistent leaves. The Pittosporum tenuifolium has 7 varieties, each with streaks that make it unique. Let's find out in strict alphabetical order.
Augyrophillum, with leaves streaked with white, Aureo-variegatum, with leaves dotted with yellow, Garnetii, with the margins of its leaves are creamy-white, with cream-white spots on the leaves (also called "nevato"), Purpureum , whose leaves are tending to bronze, Silver queen, with silver-gray veins and little resistant to cold (maximum - 5 ° C), Variegatum, with tapered light green leaves, white edges and columnar stem. The Variegatum can be recognized by its columnar stem and sharp, very light green leaves
Different from Tenuifolium but also from all the other species is P. tobira nanum, a plant with a particular shape: rounded. It manages to form pompoms with a diameter of about 80 centimeters and which can be very useful for decorating balconies and gardens. These spheres are made up of leaves bright green color with gray streaks and white-yellow edges that in spring are filled with white-yellow flowers.
This plant does not get sick easily but it has its enemies including cochineal, aphids and oziorrinco. The first enemy coats the leaves with dark or white spots and a sticky film and must be removed by hand. Aphids, on the other hand, suck the sap from leaves and also from flowers, injecting a sticky substance into the plant in its place that damages it. Finally, the oziorrinco, a beetle, arrives and feeds on the leaves of the pittosporum, jagged the edges.
To develop a pittosporum it is necessary to arrange it in a position where it gets a lot of sun and is not disturbed by the cold wind. In the garden it should be planted in a sheltered area with soft, rich and well-drained soil.
From April until July, its fragrant flowers bloom, it is the right time to prune the plant and make it grow more luxuriant. The 'topping' speeds up the growth of the lower part of the plant.
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