Loropetalum chinensis ‘Black Pearl’. The merits of this variety consist of a more rounded leaf with a deep dark bronze colour that does not fade greenish during the year and its bright red-purple flowers. Loropetalum chinensis is a versatile hardy shrub, increasingly popular also because of its strong colour contrast with plants with lighter green foliage. Despite its sptreading habit, techniques of cultivation could create a compact container-grown plant an innovation to the range of container shrubs.
This variety was presented to the author in 2002 at the Subtropical Forestry Research Institute, Fuyan, China. Various attempts to import and introduce the variety into Europe through an important grower in Sicily were unsuccessful due to a lack of specific facilities and knowledge to succeed in the weening stage, probably exacerbated by a change in season between the two continents. Difficulties associated with email communications in English, phytosanitary certification, packaging, air-freight logistics, customs clearance and forwarding were immense. Subsequently, other dedicated propagators with appropriate facilities have succeeded and the variety is today available from a Dutch propagator and various nursery-stock growers. Vivai Nord for example, lists this variety in its Loropetalum assortment.