Rauvolfia tetraphylla, or Be Still Tree, is native to tropical America. It is a small tree or shrub that will reach 6 feet (~2 meters) in height. Leaves are whorled, medium to dark green in color, and occur in groups of 4 unequally-sized leaves at each node. The roots yield the drug deserpidine, which is an antihypertensive and tranquilizer.
Blooming Time: In late summer to early fall the very small, white flowers appear. Bright red berries form that turn black as they ripen.
Culture: Rauvolfia tetraphylla need full sun to partial shade with a rich well-drained soil mix. We grow ours under 25% shade all year long. We use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants are allowed to dry slightly between waterings. They are fertilized every other week with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the recommended rate. In late fall, water is restricted, but the plants are never allowed to dry out completely. Too much water during the winter tends to rot the roots.
Propagation: Rauvolfia tetraphylla is propagated by stem cuttings, root cutting or by seed. Seed are covered to a depth of ¼ of an inch (nearly 1 cm) and germinate in 14-28 days at 70° F (21° C).
Rauvolfia tetraphylla was featured as Plant of the Week August 16-22, 2002.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.