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What Is a Sky Flower?

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  • Written By: M. Haskins
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
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Sky flower, also known by its scientific name Duranta erecta L., is a flowering, evergreen shrub native to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Sky flower is a popular garden plant in areas of the world that have a tropical or subtropical climate, and it is commonly grown as an ornamental plant. It has a sprawling growth habit and can grow up to 15 feet (about 4.5 m) tall, spreading to about 10 feet (3 m) wide, and is favored by gardeners both for its colorful berries and for its showy clusters of flowers that are usually light blue or lavender in color. The plant can bear berries and flowers at the same time, and it is important to note that both the berries and the leaves are toxic and can pose a real danger to small children and pets.

This plant is also known as pigeon berry and golden dew drop, referring to its berries that are golden yellow, about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in diameter, and grow in hanging clusters just like the flowers. The leaves are elongated, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, and light green in color. Mature specimens of wild sky flower often have thorns, but most cultivated varieties are thorn-less. Cultivated varieties also feature a wider range of flower colors, including white, pink and purple, or even variegated flowers, meaning the petals have more than one color. The flowers also have a vanilla-like aroma and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

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Sky flower has established itself as part of the natural landscape in many of the places where it was first introduced as a garden plant. It has been classified as an invasive plant in several countries, including Australia, China, South Africa, Fiji and some Pacific Islands. This means that it is considered a non-native species that is negatively affecting indigenous species and local habitats. In many other places, however, sky flower has become a part of the local environment without becoming invasive.

In its native habitat, sky flower commonly grows in coastal areas, often in sandy or rocky soil. The plant needs full sun or light shade to thrive and can tolerate some frost but prefers a warm climate. Sky flower does not tolerate dry air well and grows best in humid conditions; it also needs frequent watering to keep the soil constantly moist. This plant can be propagated from seed or cuttings.

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