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CRAMBE cordifolia

Image of Crambe cordifolia

James H. Schutte

Family

Brassicaceae

Botanical Name

CRAMBE cordifolia

Plant Common Name

Colewort, Giant Sea Kale

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

A massive mound of ornate leaves are attractive by themselves on the colewort, but the many-branched flower stems with wispy, baby's breath-like white flowers makes this herbaceous perennial a showstopper. Colewort, a relative of cabbage and broccoli, is native to western Asia's Caucasus Mountains.

In spring, a rosette of long-stemmed dark green leaves emerge from the ground. Each laef blade is kidney-shaped or oval with a puckering center and toothed, bristled edges. It creates an alluring mound of foliage in the perennial border. By late spring or very early summer, the plant doubles its volume with numerous upright, wispy and branched flower stems above the mass of leaves. The tiny white, four-petaled flowers smell of honey and collectively look like a cloud or mist. By mid to late summer, the colewort dies back, leaving a bare spot in the landscape. Leaves turn yellow before shriveling.

Grow colewort in any deep, fertile, well-drained soil in full to partial sun. It tolerates partial shade, but leaves are floppier and flowering reduced. Impoverished soils are also tolerated. Plant it in a wind-protected part of the landscape to prevent the flower stems from flopping or looking tattered. Use colewort as a ephemeral specimen in the mixed herbaceous border. Plant annuals in summer to fill in the gap left by the colewort as it goes dormant.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Cushion/Mound-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes