A top landscape plant – the golden dewdrop

cascading purple flowers
‘Sapphire Shower’ is a highly ornamental cultivar known for its cascading purple flowers

The golden dewdrop is a versatile and beloved woody plant that has weaved itself into the hearts of all gardeners.  Found in every garden center, the golden dewdrop – and its various cultivars – are a very useful ornamentals and a top landscape choice.

Highlighted in 2005 as a Florida Plant of the Year by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA), the golden dewdrop is native to Tropical America and ranges from the Florida Keys through Mexico and South America.  While there may be up to thirty-six species of Duranta throughout the world, the most commonly used species are Duranta erecta and Duranta repens which have small leaves, and Duranta stenostachya also known as the Brazilian Sky-flower which has much larger leaves.  There are many hybrids available of these species which make up the many cultivars commonly available on the market.  You may also occasionally find this shrub called Pigeonberry or Sky-flower, but the botanical genus Duranta or common name golden dewdrop will suffice for this article.

Duranta is a very fast-growing shrub maturing at up to fifteen feet tall with multiple, somewhat floppy branches with light green foliage and truly beautiful blue, lavender, purple, and white flowers.  Some flowers even have a white edging on the outer rim of the petals – also known as picotee .  The fragrant flowers which appear in spring, summer, and fall, are very attractive to a wide range of pollinators.  The flowers are followed by clusters of hanging golden berries favored by birds.  Be aware however that the berries are poisonous so keep this in mind in keeping kids and pets away or even avoiding planting this shrub altogether.  Mature golden dewdrop also develops thorns, so handle carefully. The sap can irritate skin, so wear gloves when pruning.

Golden dewdrops cultivars should be planted in well-drained locations preferably in a full-sun location.  While noted as highly drought tolerant, the Duranta is not salt tolerant, so plant accordingly.  Golden dewdrops can be used as small flowering trees when they are pruned and trained into a single leader.  These shrubs are also popular trained into an espalier.  Many named cultivars of Duranta expand the attraction to this plant.  ‘Sapphire Shower’ is a highly ornamental cultivar known for its cascading purple flowers.  The very popular ‘Gold Mound’ is often included in planting beds, border plants, and containers.  While the green leaf variety along with the blue-purple flowers is attractive as is, the variegated forms with white, green, and gold add a whole new dimension to color combinations.  Some additional cultivars to look for include ‘Alba’, the white flowering form; ‘Variegata’ with white leaf margins and ‘Aurea’ or ‘Aureo-variegata’ with yellow variegation and yellow margined variegation, respectfully.

Presently I have the golden dewdrop called ‘Gold Mound’ in my landscape.  ‘Gold Mound’ has beautiful golden foliage, relatively dwarf growth and petite sparkling lavender flowers – a real gem.  In conclusion, the variety of sizes, shapes, foliage, and flower color all combine to earn the golden dewdrop a special spot on my list of garden favorites!  For more information on all types of shrubs suitable for our Southwest Florida area, or to ask a question, you can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk 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.  Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or ralph.mitchell@charlottecountyfl.gov. Connect with us on social media. Like us on Facebook @CharlotteCountyExtension and follow us on Instagram @ifascharco.

Resources :
Andreu, M. G., Friedman, M. H., McKenzie, M., Quintana H. V. & Northrop, R. J.  (2022) DURANTA ERECTA, GOLDEN DEWDROP. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions (2023) Golden Dewdrop. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS
Gilman, E. F. (1999) Duranta repens. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2022) The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS
Chapman, C. (2005) FNGLA Plants of the Year 2005 – Part III. Ocala Star Banner.
Mitchell, R. E. (2017) My favorite golden dewdrop. The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS
Landre, C. (2024) Golden Dewdrop. South-Florida-Plant-Guide.com


ralph mitchell
Posted: June 13, 2024

Tags: Duranta, Golden Dewdrop

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