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Clerodendrum indicum

Q: I have attached a picture of a plant that is thriving on Sapelo Island. Do you have any idea what it could be?

Q: I have attached a picture of a plant that is thriving on Sapelo Island.  It is about 5′ tall and the flowers are waxy.  It is really putting on a show now.  Do you have any idea what it could be?  I can’t find it in any book.

Turks turban

Turks turban

A: Thank you for sending the photos of this plant. I was not familiar with it so I contacted the University of Florida Herbarium to assist me. They quickly identified it as Clerodendrum indicum (L.) Kuntze, commonly referred to as skyrocket or turk’s turban, in the Lamiaceae (mint family). Do not confuse this plant with other Clerodendrums (such as bleeding heart) or the squash variety often called turk’s turban. Clerodendrum indicum (L.) Kuntze escaped from the East Indies and became naturalized in Florida and 5 other southern states. It is now found in South America and even as far away as Hawaii. In some areas it is classified as a Category 2 invasive, which means you are encouraged to dig it up and remove it whenever possible. Therefore we would not encourage you to propagate it although it easily propagates by seed or rhizome. Clerodendrum indicum (L.) Kuntze is found in disturbed uplands or rockland hammocks generally in full sun but it can grow in partial shade too. It produces white flowers in the summer. The red petal-like structures you see during late summer and fall are actually called calyxes. Calyx is the term used for a group of sepals. Sepals are the green structures that protect a flower bud prior to opening