Better Late than Never – Wildlife Magnet Supreme
Wilt Shaw was so kind as to put together on bit on his personal experience with Bluewood condalia aka Brasil, our August Plant of the Month
Trudging around a few years ago at son, David’s place in Adkins, Texas, I noticed these thorny bushes with bright green leaves and “berries” in various colors. They reminded me of a small, strikingly unforgettable tree that had caught my attention a couple of years before at a friend’s home in Leon Valley. Research (aka sending photos to Patty Leslie Pasztor!) identified the plants at David’s as Bluewood Condalia (Condalia hookeri). Those bushes and the tree I decided are the same species.
I bagged several of the purplish-black fruits, bubbled scarified them later in compost tea for about a week and planted them in small pots. I cannot say that the bubbling step was even necessary. At any rate, there was about 80% germination with all the new plants surviving a somewhat mild winter.
They reached about 18 inches in six months and were eagerly appropriated by folks at the April native plant sale. I do have one left for myself that I hope to have in the ground at my place shortly.
Also called Brasil, this drought-tolerant plant is highly beneficial to almost all our wildlife, both birds and mammals, mostly due to the fruit producing and ripening from spring to fall. Birds that eat the fruit are northern cardinals, doves, quail and woodpeckers among others. Mammals that partake are the usual suspects: Opossum, raccoon, ringtail and squirrel. Fox have also been known to consume the fruit. I don’t want to forget us humans, too, who have made jelly from the fruit. I hear that wine can also be made, but collecting enough fruit for this undertaking would be a daunting task given the competition.
The name bluewood I might add comes from the fact that a blue dye can be extracted from the wood, something the native peoples in the area figured out. The flowers of C. hookeri are small, green and have no petals, but the pollen attracts both honey bees and native bees. Another benefit to wildlife, especially birds, is the cover provided by a large Condalia in its shrub form. Even with the thorns and a sharp spike at the branch ends, deer will browse the leaves and dine on the fruit. I should mention Brasil should be good to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit planted in a mostly sunny location that stays rather dry. Make sure it’s in a good location, so that you can observe what this magnet attracts.
It isn’t the showiest of shrubs, but if your main landscape goal is to draw wildlife, you couldn’t have a better plant than Condalia!