Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Turnera ulmifolia L.

Frost tender subshrub with lance-shaped leaves, to 10cm, often serrated or crinkled, with very showy but short-lived bright yellow flowers, sometimes flushed red or maroon at the base.  To 70cm.  [RHSD].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘[Turnera angustifolia is] commonly cultivated in our stoves, where it rises with a semi-shrubby stalk, to the height of several feet, seldom continuing more than two or theree years; young plants generally come up in plenty from seeds spontaneously scattered, so that a succession is easily obtained.  It flowers from June to August.  Its foliage has a disagreeable smell when bruised; its flowers are shewy, but of short duration, and are remarkable for growing out of the footstalk of the leaf.’  [BM t. 281/1794]. 

Introduced to Britain in as Turnera ulmifolia 1733 and as Turnera trioniflora in 1812.  [JD].  Both were figured in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, ulmifolia shown with clear yellow flowers.  ‘There are, in the West Indies, two striking varieties of Turnera ulmifolia.  One is already figured in the present work, under the name of T. augustifolia.  The much finer state, and that which is considered the type of the species, is that now given, drawn from the rich collection at Syon Gardens.  Its seeds were sent over from Jamaica by Mr. Purdie, and its very showy flowers, and ample glossy foliage, were in perfection in the stove, in July, 1844.  Shortly after, plants, from the same source, flowered in the Royal Botanic Gardens, and convinced us that this variety, at least, is well deserving of cultivation.  It appears, however, to be a plant of short duration, and requires to be renewed from seed.’  [BM t.4137/1845]. Turnera trioniflora is shown with a red centre [BM t.2106/1829].  The latter is identical with the variety still grown as elegans

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1857 catalogue only [T.976/1857].


Published Mar 27, 2009 - 02:42 PM | Last updated Mar 29, 2010 - 03:32 PM

Shown are the serrated and crinkled lance-shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.413, 1845.

Turnera ulmifolia L. | BM t.4137/1845 | BHL

Family Turneraceae
Region of origin

Tropical America

  • Turnera trioniflora Sims
  • Turnera angustifolia Mill.
Common Name

West Indian holly, Sage rose

Name in the Camden Park Record

Turnera ulmifolia 

Confidence level high