Plants Shrubs and Trees Beginning with the Letter D

10 Plants and Shrubs Beginning with the Letter D

Embark on a horticultural voyage exploring 10 fascinating plants and shrubs beginning with the letter ‘D’. Uncover the enchanting histories, characteristics, and unique features that make them stand out in the plant kingdom. Your garden’s next showstopper awaits!

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Each alphabet letter contributes unique botanical wonders to the vast tapestry of flora that adorns our planet. But have you ever stopped considering the plants, shrubs, and trees that begin with the letter ‘D’? From the iconic Dahlia to the mysterious Dragon Tree, the letter ‘D’ offers a cornucopia of horticultural treasures that are as diverse as they are delightful.

Whether you’re a seasoned botanist, a weekend gardener, or someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, this article is your passport to a realm of ‘D’ plants that are as fascinating as they are varied. We’ll explore their histories, characteristics, and the unique features that make them stand out in the plant kingdom.

So, why focus on the letter ‘D’? Because it’s a letter that often goes overlooked in the botanical world, overshadowed by the As, Cs, and Fs. Yet, it’s a letter with a wealth of beauty, utility, and ecological importance. From medicinal herbs to ornamental show-stoppers, from towering trees to ground-hugging shrubs, the plants in this list are bound to inspire awe and admiration.

Prepare to embark on a journey through the alphabet like never before. We’ve curated a list of 10 remarkable plants, shrubs, and trees that begin with the letter ‘D’ and encapsulate the diversity and wonder of the world’s flora. Each entry is a testament to nature’s incredible adaptability and variety, complete with details that will help you appreciate these botanical marvels in a new light.

1. Dianthus caryophyllus (Carnation)

Dianthus caryophyllus, commonly known as the carnation

Description:

Dianthus caryophyllus, commonly known as the carnation, is a flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family. Native to the Mediterranean region, carnations are now grown globally as ornamental flowers. The name “carnation” comes from the flower’s original pinkish-hued colour, which resembles human flesh’s hue (caro in Latin).

Carnations produce fluffy, ruffled flowers 2-3 inches in diameter atop straight stems reaching 1-3 feet tall. The flowers bloom in various colours, like white, pink, red, purple, and yellow. Their 5 deeply cleft petals surround a central tubular calyx. Carnations give off a sweet, clove-like scent. Behind each flower is a slender pair of linear green leaves.

These hardy perennials thrive in well-drained soil and full sun. Carnations are ideal cut flowers, lasting up to 3 weeks in a vase. They are also used in perfumes, teas, soaps, and garnishes. Different coloured carnations hold symbolic meaning – red signifies love and affection, while white carnations represent innocence and purity. These popular blooms make cheerful additions to gardens and floral arrangements.

Details:

  • History: They have been cultivated in Europe for over 2,000 years.
  • Characteristics: Ruffled petals with a sweet, spicy aroma.
  • Native Habitat: Native to Europe but widely cultivated globally.
  • Preferred Conditions: Well-drained soil and full sun.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 80 cm in height.
  • Years to Maturity: 2-3 years.
  • Growth Habits: Upright growth with branching stems.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Regular deadheading to encourage more blooms.

2. Dracaena marginata (Dragon Tree)

DRACAENA MARGINATA (Dragon Tree)

Description:

Dracaena marginata, or dragon tree, is an attractive, stiff-leaved plant that thrives as an indoor houseplant. Native to Madagascar, these plants can grow up to 6 feet tall with slender, vertical green stems that resemble small palm trees.

The most distinctive feature of dragon trees is their sword-shaped leaves. Each leaf has a red or yellow stripe running through the centre, providing a bold pop of colour. The leaves emerge in a rosette pattern at the tip of each branch. Thicker and stiffer than many houseplants, the leaves can grow up to 3 feet long and just an inch wide.

Dragon trees prefer bright, indirect light indoors. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Wipe the leaves down regularly with a damp cloth to keep them dust-free. The dragon tree is easy to grow and quite forgiving if occasionally neglected. This unique, low-maintenance plant adds an exotic, tropical flair to indoor spaces.

Details:

  • History: Native to Madagascar.
  • Characteristics: Long, slender leaves with red or purple margins.
  • Native Habitat: Madagascar.
  • Preferred Conditions: Indirect light and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 6 feet indoors.
  • Years to Maturity: 5-10 years.
  • Growth Habits: Slow-growing with a tree-like form.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Water sparingly and keep away from direct sunlight.

3. Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)

Digitalis purpurea

Description:

Digitalis purpurea, commonly known as foxglove, is a biennial flowering plant in the Plantaginaceae family. This cottage garden classic is known for its tall, majestic flower spikes that reach up to 6 feet tall.

In the first year, foxgloves produce only a low rosette of fuzzy green leaves. In the second year, a single stalk emerges, topped by tubular flowers in shades of purple, pink, yellow, red, or white. The blooms have speckled interiors and flare into a bell shape at the mouth, earning them the name “fairy thimbles.” Foxgloves bloom in late spring through early summer.

All parts of Digitalis purpurea are poisonous and contain cardiac glycosides that can cause heart palpitations, nausea, and even death if ingested. However, the same compounds are extracted from the leaves to create the medication digitalis, which treats heart conditions. With its toxic qualities and stately beauty, the elegant foxglove represents healing and harm in nature. When grown safely in gardens, its towers of delicate bells create an enchanting, whimsical effect.

Details:

  • History: Native to Europe.
  • Characteristics: Tall spikes of bell-shaped flowers.
  • Native Habitat: Woodlands and open fields.
  • Preferred Conditions: Partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 5 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 2 years.
  • Growth Habits: Biennial, flowering in the second year.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Keep away from pets and children due to toxicity.

4. Delphinium elatum (Larkspur)

Delphinium elatum (Larkspur)

Description:

Delphinium elatum, commonly called larkspur, is an eye-catching perennial flower grown for its tall, spiky blooms. Native to Europe, these plants thrive in cooler climates and are staples of cottage gardens. Larkspurs produce great towers of densely packed flowers on leafy stems reaching 3-6 feet tall.

The flowers come in vibrant shades of blue, purple, pink, red, and white. Each bloom has five petal-like sepals surrounding a spur that gives the flower a rocket-like shape. The flowers bloom on long racemes held above delicate, hand-shaped leaves divided into slender lobes.

Larkspurs flourish in rich, well-drained soil and full sun. They bloom from early to mid-summer. All parts of Delphinium are toxic if ingested, so care should be taken around children and pets. However, toxicity levels can be reduced by drying or cooking. With proper handling, these stately beauties add incredible height and colour to the back of flower beds and cutting gardens.

Details:

  • History: Native to Europe and North America.
  • Characteristics: Tall spikes of colourful flowers.
  • Native Habitat: Meadows and woodlands.
  • Preferred Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 6 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 2-3 years.
  • Growth Habits: Upright growth.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Stake to support the tall blooms.

5. Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon)

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon)

Description:

Diospyros virginiana, the American persimmon, is a slow-growing, deciduous tree prized for its edible fruits. Native across the eastern United States, persimmons thrive in the harsh conditions of their native habitat. They can grow 30-60 feet tall and 20-35 feet wide.

The American persimmon has alternately arranged, ovate leaves 3-6 inches long, turning bright orange-red in autumn. The bark is dark blackish-brown and broken into small square blocks. Small green flowers bloom April-July, producing 1-2 inch diameter fruits called persimmons. Unripe persimmons are very astringent due to their high tannin content. But once soft and ripe in autumn, their flesh turns sweet, with flavours reminiscent of mango, peach, and apricot.

The American persimmon is slow to bear fruit, taking up to a decade before significant harvests. They prefer full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked into puddings and pies. The American persimmon is an excellent addition to landscapes and gardens with its resilience, ornamental foliage, and flavorful fruits.

Details:

  • History: Native to the eastern United States.
  • Characteristics: Produces sweet, astringent fruit.
  • Native Habitat: Eastern United States.
  • Preferred Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 60 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 5-10 years.
  • Growth Habits: Deciduous, fruit-bearing tree.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Prune in late winter to encourage new growth.

6. Daphne odora (Winter Daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter Daphne)

Description:

Daphne odora, known as winter daphne, is a bushy, evergreen shrub cherished for its intensely fragrant flowers. Native to China and Japan, this 4-foot-tall shrub thrives in mild winter climates and bright shade.

Leathery, pointed, glossy green leaves clothe its stems year-round. Tight clusters of small, tubular, pink or white flowers bloom from winter into early spring, releasing an unmistakable, powerful sweet, citrus-like scent. The blooms lack petals and feature 4 recurved lobes surrounding a small tube instead. Pollinated flowers produce oval, red berry-like drupes.

Winter daphne prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil, filtered sunlight, or dappled shade. Once established, it is fairly drought tolerant. It can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Long grown around Asian temples and gardens, this tough, captivating shrub also makes a beautiful addition to modern landscapes. When sited properly, the alluring fragrance of winter daphne flowers provides an unexpected sensorial delight during the dull days of late winter.

Details:

  • History: Native to China and Japan.
  • Characteristics: Fragrant, pink or white flowers.
  • Native Habitat: East Asia.
  • Preferred Conditions: Partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 4 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 3-5 years.
  • Growth Habits: Evergreen shrub.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Mulch to retain moisture.

7. Dahlia pinnata (Dahlia)

Dahlia pinnata

Description:

Dahlia pinnata, commonly known as dahlia, are stunning ornamental flowers grown for their showy, diverse blooms. Native to Mexico and Central America, dahlias have been prized garden plants since the 1800s. These tender perennials grow from large tuberous roots, enabling them to survive underground cold winters.

In summer, dahlia plants can reach heights of 4-6 feet on straight, sturdy stems. The flowers come in nearly every colour and form – from tiny 1-inch blooms to giant 15-inch “dinner plate” flowers. Blooms display various forms like pom-poms, waterlilies, cactus-shaped, and more. The petals may be solid, variegated, or multicoloured.

Dahlias grow best in organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Pinching backshoots encourages bushy growth and more flowers. The long-lasting cut flowers are prized additions to gardens, floral arrangements, and bouquets. With the endless variety and stunning colours, it’s no wonder dahlias have long been garden favourites.

Details:

  • History: Native to Mexico.
  • Characteristics: Large, colourful blooms.
  • Native Habitat: Mexico.
  • Preferred Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 6 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 1-2 years.
  • Growth Habits: Upright growth with tuberous roots.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Stake to support heavy blooms.

8. Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)

Dicentra spectabilis

Description:

Dicentra spectabilis, commonly called old-fashioned bleeding heart, is a spring-blooming perennial with graceful, romantic flowers. Native to Asia, this 1-3 foot tall plant thrives in shady gardens across much of North America.

Its fern-like, blue-green foliage emerges in early spring. Soon arching sprays of small, heart-shaped pink and white flowers dangle below each leaf. The outer petals flare out while the inner petals remain closed, creating the appearance of a droplet dangling from the “heart.”

Bleeding hearts grow best in organically rich, humusy soil and part to full shade. After flowering ends in early summer, plants dorm until spring. When happy, bleeding hearts may spread into large colonies by underground rhizomes. These sweet, nostalgic blooms make them perfect for woodland gardens and shady borders. They also make unique cut flowers.

Details:

  • History: Native to eastern Asia.
  • Characteristics: Heart-shaped flowers.
  • Native Habitat: Eastern Asia.
  • Preferred Conditions: Partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 3 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 2-3 years.
  • Growth Habits: Clump-forming perennial.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Keep soil consistently moist.

9. Duranta erecta (Golden Dewdrop)

Duranta erecta

Description:

Duranta erecta, commonly called golden dewdrop or pigeon berry, is a sprawling, tender evergreen shrub. Native from Mexico to South America, it is prominent in warm climates for its abundant flowers and berries. Golden dewdrop grows up to 15 feet tall and wide in ideal conditions.

Oval, pointed, light green leaves up to 6 inches long clothe its arching branches. It produces loose clusters of petite, tubular, lavender or white flowers from summer into autumn with yellow centres. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. After the flowers fade, dangling clusters of small, spherical, golden-yellow berries emerge, which birds love.

Golden dewdrop thrives in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It is quite drought-tolerant once established. Regular pruning helps maintain its shape and size. This versatile shrub can also be trained into a hedge, screen, or small tree. With ornate flowers, berries, and lush foliage, golden dewdrop is a beautiful choice for tropical gardens.

Details:

  • History: Native to the Americas.
  • Characteristics: Cascading clusters of flowers and yellow berries.
  • Native Habitat: Tropical regions of the Americas.
  • Preferred Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 18 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 2-3 years.
  • Growth Habits: Upright to spreading shrub.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Prune to shape and encourage new growth.

10. Davidia involucrata (Dove Tree)

Davidia involucrata

Description:

Davidia involucrata, also known as the handkerchief tree or dove tree, is a unique, ornamental deciduous tree prized for its showy white bracts in spring. Native to central China, dove trees grow 20-40 feet tall and wide in landscape settings.

The most distinctive feature of the dove tree is its large, white bracts that emerge in May, surrounding the small greenish flowers clustered at the ends of branches. Shaped like doves in flight, these bracts can grow over 3 inches long, resembling fluttering white handkerchiefs. As the common name suggests, when breezy, they undulate as if a flock of doves landed in its branches.

The dove tree has heart-shaped, toothed leaves with pointed tips that emerge with a reddish tint before turning green. It thrives in full sun to part shade and adapts well to most soil types. Slow-growing and trouble-free, the dove tree provides a graceful focal point in the garden. Its dove-like blooms offer a poetic, ornamental quality.

Details:

  • History: Native to China.
  • Characteristics: White, dove-like bracts.
  • Native Habitat: China.
  • Preferred Conditions: Full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Size Fully Grown: Up to 40 feet.
  • Years to Maturity: 10-20 years.
  • Growth Habits: Deciduous tree.
  • Conservation Status: Not threatened.
  • Maintenance Tips: Minimal pruning is required.

How to Choose the Right ‘D’ Plant for Your Space

Before you rush out to buy a Dahlia or a Dragon Tree, it’s essential to consider the specific needs of your space. Here, we’ll guide you through the factors to consider, such as light conditions, soil type, and the amount of care you’re willing to invest.

Tips:

Here are some tips for choosing the right ‘D’ plants for your space:

  • Evaluate your light conditions – Full sun lovers like Dahlia and Delphinium need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Shadier spots suit Dicentra and Daphne better.
  • Consider your climate – Tropicals like Duranta erecta thrive in warm zones 9-11, while Daphne odora and Digitalis prefer cooler climates. Select plants suited for your area.
  • Check soil drainage – Excellent drainage is crucial for Dahlia tubers and foxtail fern roots. Improve drainage before planting them.
  • Know the mature sizes – Give larger varieties like Dracaena marginata or Dove Tree enough room to reach full size.
  • Factor in maintenance needs – Some, like Davidia involucrata are low-maintenance, while Dahlia and Delphinium require much more care.
  • Check for invasive tendencies – Spreading plants like Daylily or Fountain Palm may overtake spaces if not contained.
  • Look for multi-season interest – Trees like Diospyros virginiana offer pretty foliage and fruits after flowering.

Considering these key factors, you can find the perfect ‘D’ plant to complement and thrive in your unique garden. A bit of planning goes a long way to success!


The Medicinal and Culinary Uses of ‘D’ Plants

In addition to their ornamental qualities, many plants starting with D provide medicinal and culinary uses that have served people for centuries.

Medicinal Highlights:

  • Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove): Contains cardiac glycosides like digoxin used in drugs that strengthen heart contractions and regulate rhythm. However, ingesting any part of foxglove can be highly toxic.
  • Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yam): The roots can produce steroid compounds like estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Has been used to treat menopausal symptoms.
  • Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed): Contains tropane alkaloids like scopolamine that have anaesthetic, antispasmodic effects. Extremely toxic if improperly dosed.

Culinary Highlights:

  • Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon): The fruits can be eaten fresh, dried, baked into puddings and bread, or fermented into beer or brandy.
  • Duranta erecta (Golden Dewdrop): The yellow berries are edible and used in jams and jellies. Fruits, flowers, and leaves have been used to flavour foods and teas.

Proper identification and handling of these plants’ compounds can provide real medicinal and culinary benefits. But toxicity risks mean they must be approached carefully.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answer common questions that readers might have about these plants. For example:

Q: How can I get my Dahlia tubers to bloom well?

A: Give dahlia tubers full sun, fertile soil, regular watering, and stake tall varieties. Pinch back tips to encourage bushy growth. Dig up tubers each fall once frost kills the foliage.

Q: When is the best time to prune my Duranta erecta shrub?

A: Prune duranta in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. Trimming stimulates denser growth and more flower production.

Q: Are foxglove flowers safe to have in a bouquet?

A: Handle foxglove flowers carefully with gloves – all parts are toxic if ingested. Cut flowers present less risk and make beautiful additions to arrangements. Just keep out of reach of children and pets.

Q: Why does my Delphinium stop blooming mid-summer?

A: Larkspurs tend to decline in hot, humid summers. Provide some afternoon shade and trim back spent flower stalks to encourage a second, smaller bloom period in fall.

Q: Is the fruit on my American Persimmon tree safe to eat?

A: Persimmon fruits are edible only when completely soft and ripe. They will be extremely bitter and astringent if eaten before ripe due to high tannin content.


Discover the Charm of ‘D’ Plants

From the cheerful Dahlia to the romantic Bleeding Heart, we’ve explored the diverse offerings of delightful plants starting with D. This guide highlighted key facts, growing tips, and uses to help you select the right D plants to flourish in your landscape.

These plants can create showstopping gardens with their graceful forms, intoxicating scents, and vivid hues. Yet many also provide medicinal benefits or tasty fruits. We hope this overview has sparked inspiration to incorporate new ‘D’ plants into your outdoor spaces.

Dig Deeper into ‘D’ Plants

Want to further indulge your curiosity? Here are reputable resources for purchasing seeds, tools and learning more:

The possibilities with ‘D’ plants are endless. Let your imagination take flight in your own garden oasis.

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