Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: this native Brazilian shrub owes its vernacular name to the changes in the colours of its flowers over three days: violet, blue then white.
The genus Brunfelsia was named in commemoration of Otto Brunfels: father of German botany. Pauciflora means "bearing few flowers" (in Latin).
Description and flowering period
Brunfelsia pauciflora is a persistent shrub growing up to 3 meters in height, although usually smaller. The leathery, lanceolate (spearhead shaped) leaves are up to 15cm long, dark green on top and paler on their undersides. The terminal inflorescence is a cyme of up to 10 flowers which open one at a time. The flowers which release a heady perfume are flat and have 5 petals. They all bear a white throat in their centre which acts as a landing strip for pollinators. The petals change colour from one day to the next - hence its common name - its flowers are purple first, then lavender and finally white. They whither on the fourth day.
It prefers a slightly acidic, humus-rich yet free-draining soil in a sunny or partially shaded position. As it is a subtropical climate plant: it does not appreciate temperatures reaching below 10°C for extended periods of time which would result in the plant becoming deciduous.
Endemic to Brazil (only naturally occurs within the country’s territory), where it is also widely cultivated as an ornamental. The plant – especially the fruit – is toxic, particularly for pets which are extremely sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of its brunfelsamidine content.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN