Chilean Lantern Tree

Chilean Lantern Tree

In June, in full bloom, this plant is amazing.  I photographed this Chilean Lantern Tree, or Crinodendron hookerianum, at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island in Washington.  It was about eight feet tall and literally dripping with flowers.   Flowers of a soft, pinkish-red color that hang down profusely like cherries or peppers.  I’ve seen the immature plant at the nursery, for sale as a small two gallon shrub.  The flowers are bright, but sparse.  As a whole the young plant is rather unattractive.  The evergreen leaves are lanceolate, shaped like a spear, narrow and pointed.  They are a thick, dark green color and did take some frost damage in late winter at the nursery.  The name comes from the Greek crinon (lily) and dendron (tree) and from  William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) an English botanist.  I wouldn’t use this as a specimen tree, but it would look good nestled in the garden, perhaps hiding by something with big and beautiful leaves, like a Japanese maple or a rhododendron. Then the flowers appear just as the rhododendron blossoms fade, creating a spash of summer color.  And you will be glowing in the light of these happy little lanterns.

W. Hooker, Dreaming of Mosses

Just the Facts
Height 23 feet or 7m
Width 12 feet or 3.7m
Evergreen, to Zone 8, 10-20F
Blooms early summer
Semi-shade or direct sun in sheltered location
Acidic soil
Low drought tolerance

Chilean Lantern Tree

8 thoughts on “Chilean Lantern Tree

  1. Wow! I’ve only seen the tiny ones in pots at the garden centre here… Interesting to see just how big it can get! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a striking tree. We saw these trees for the first time yesterday on our visit to Bloedel and were taken with their beauty. I stumbled upon your nice photos and write-up while searching for more information as we had seen them in our local nursery. We are tempted to put one in a sheltered place in our yard despite its questionable hardiness for the Pacific NW. It’s been growing in the UK since it was brought there in 1948, so it’s a safe bet our climate should be acceptable.

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