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Yesterday, today and tomorrow – beautiful, but toxic

By Ralph E. Mitchell

Some of our flowering ornamental plants are well-known for their toxic properties – oleander for example.  The beauty hides a toxic nature that must be taken into consideration.  One such plant that many gardeners may not realize is toxic is the shrub called “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”.  This beautiful flowering shrub is a blooming right now and it is worth growing with some words of warning.

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a flowering shrub growing, unpruned, up to ten feet tall and eight feet wide.  Dwarf forms are available which will often fit better into smaller scale landscapes.  The evergreen/semi-evergreen foliage is festooned with interesting flowers during the summer and fall in much of Florida.  Hardy in Zone 9B, this Brazilian native does well in our climate.  It is the fragrant flowers that give this unique shrub its name as they open purple, begin to fade to lavender and eventually turn white over a few days’ time.  As new two-inch wide blooms are constantly emerging, there is a consistent show of mixed color every day during the blooming period.  Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is also noted for its ability to flower well in partially shaded locations which can brighten up those areas.  The best display I saw of this was at Bok Tower which supported a long, tall hedge of this flowering shrub brightening up a relatively shady area.

While Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow can make a fine specimen by itself, a shrub border is a nice landscape feature as well as it used in mass plantings, as a screen or even as a trained standard with a single trunk.

Now while Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ recommended plant, there is this caveat: this plant is toxic and this fact should give pause with consideration related to the presence of children, pets and livestock.  A member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, all plant parts of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow contain poisonous alkaloids.  The berries are noted as especially toxic.  Risk management and due diligence are in order here.

With this precaution in mind, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow can make a stunning seasonal display that will have the neighbors talking.  As with any plant you work with, “Right Plant, Right Place”, is a good motto to follow.  For more information on colorful flowering shrubs, and even what plants are toxic, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times -http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/03/Plant-Clinics-Schedule.pdf.     Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or ralph.mitchell@charlottecountyfl.gov.

Resources:
Gilman, E. F. (2014) Brunfelsia grandiflora -Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Gardening Solutions (2019) – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Gardening Solutions (2019) -Deadly Plants. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Muxworthy, E. (2014) Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Wikipedia (2019) Brunfelsia grandiflora. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brunfelsia_grandiflora
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services

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