Cyrilla racemiflora – Swamp Titi Native Shrub
When a box of mail ordered plants arrived I was instantly charmed by a tiny Swamp Titi (pronounced tie tie) Cyrilla racemiflora packed in there. This native shrub was ordered from Nearly Native Nursery to go in my habitat garden based upon reading about it, not by knowing the plant personally. I’d never seen one, however it is repeatedly recommended as a favored bee food source plant and the fruit is supposed to be edible to wildlife. So into the plan it went but it was one of many and not singled out as something grand.
Until it arrived. When I opened the box, this little little 3′ shrub was in there with tiny, needle like leaves looking sturdy and delicate at the same time. I wondered why I hadn’t planted it before.
Cyrilla racemiflora is native to AL, DE, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX, VA (see USDA Plants Profile), growing 7-15 ft’ tall with a rounded, spreading crown. The leaves are deciduous in the north, semi-evergreen in the south. So far here in 7b it has been evergreen even with temperatures in the teens at night. It is supposed to like to be watered but is a wet area plant which adapts to dry sites once established. I am giving it a shot in a damp area of my woods.
Titi blooms in late spring and early summer, producing tiny flowers on horizontal whorls of long clusters just below the season’s new growth much in the manner of a sourwood tree. It is also reported to be fragrant, which would make sense as it is supposed to be a native bee favorite. Grown in full sun it will be full and bushy while in part shade, which it will tolerate, it is more leggy.
The photo below is from Native Plants for Georgia and looks to me like it will make wonderful bird and wildlife coverage. You bet I’ll be feeding my little 3′ plant!
I planted my Titi in the fall and it has moved in fantastically, never missing a beat. I am hoping it blooms this spring so I can see what the flowers are like and test out that native bee favorite reputation it has. One thing to note, if you are interested in Cyrilla racemiflora for your own backyard habitat, you might want to consider contacting Nearly Native Nursery and making sure that you get one similar to the first photo. Mine arrived with a tag stating it was a narrow leaf which is not listed on their site. Other photos I have seen of titi feature a wider leaf, but I am very much liking the needle shape. It offers that area of the garden a very different texture.
I know that I’m smitten with it already but will let you know what the bees think in spring and what wildlife eats the fruit in fall.