Common name: Shrubby hare’s ear
Shrubby hare’s ear (Bupleurum fruticosum) is a good common name for this evergreen Mediterranean shrub. You can see in the pictures that its oblong leaves have the perfect shape and angle of a hare’s ear. Yet it is uncommon in gardens since it is difficult and slow to propagate with cuttings.
Too bad because this medium-sized shrub thrives on neglect. Doesn’t need to be watered. Isn’t bothered by wind. Doesn’t mind salt spray from the ocean. Isn’t fussy about soil. And being in the carrot family (Apiaceae), it attracts many beneficial insects to keep it healthy. The one thing it needs is good drainage.
Shrubby hare’s ear has shiny grey-green leaves that are handsome throughout the year, while in summer its chartreuse flowers in umbels grow on top of long stems. Some of the stems reach a height of 2 m/6 ft. This shrub isn’t fussy where it grows - it is even found in walls and rock areas in its native habitat. With summers getting hotter and dryer and fires increasing everywhere, this plant more than ever has a role to play in thoughtful planting.
And if you are wondering what the genus name Bupleurum means, it is Greek for 'ox rib' and refers to the shape of the leaves. The pictures were taken in the succulent garden in July.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones