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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (The Brunfelsia)

By Jacqueline Cross (libelluleJuly 20, 2009

Sweetly scented and oh so colorful! This tropical shrub is a must have for those living in sub-tropical and tropical zones. Grow it in pots in other zones. You won't be sorry.

Gardening picture

     The color changing blooms of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Shrub (Brunfelsia pauciflora) are a wonder to see.  The three colors on one shrub, coupled with the jasmine-like fragrance, entice even those non gardeners to get a closer look.

     The flowers open purple then, over a period of several days they fade to lavender and then, finally, pure white.  After this they turn brown and die off.

     I became interested in this shrub about five years ago when I saw a photograph of it on Dave's Garden.

     A family member shared some seeds with me and I soon had a good size specimen in a pot.  It was healthy and I thought I was on my way to having a beautiful shrub in my yard.  That was not to be.  My lovely seedling died.  I did not try again until this year, when I received a rooted plant from my aunt.  I kept it in a pot until recently, at which time, I planted it out in the yard.  I placed a ring of fence wire around it and planted cypress vines on the fence to give it a bit of shade while it settles in.  So far, so good.

     Since I had failed at my first attempt with this plant, I decided to do a bit of research on it.  I certainly did not want to kill a second one.  While researching this plant,  I discovered there are more of these plants than I thought.

     The Brunfelsias belong to the Solanaceae family of plants, also known as the Nightshade family.  There are more than 3000 species in the Solanaceae family.  Many coming from the Andean/Amazonian regions of South America. [1]

     Brunfelsia is named for Otto Brunfels, a Carthusian monk who published the first good drawings of plants in 1530.[2]



Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
Brunfelsia pauciflora 

Photo courtesy of Dave's Garden member, jnana 


     These are tropical plants and therefore, do not like the cold.  Most are said to only grow in zones 10-11, however, they can be grown as far north as zone 8a. In very cold winters, they will need a bit of covering for those freezing nights.  At least, until they are established in your yard.  Once established, you will still want to keep a check on them as the freezing temperatures will burn the leaves and possibly kill the plant.  A sheet draped over the plant usually works fine here in zone 8b.  My aunt has a Brunfelsia pauciflora in her yard that is about six foot tall and she does not do anything special in the winter, other than to mulch the plant well.

     Here are a few of the Brunfelsia that you can find listed in Dave's Garden Plant Files [3]


◊ Brunfelsia australis
australis- Meaning: Of or from the south, or Australia[2]
Common Names: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Morning, Noon and Night
Paraguay Jasmine
Eternity Plant
Height: 4-6 ft.
Bloom Color: Violet/Lavender, Purple, White/Near White


◊ Brunfelsia gigantea
gigantea- Meaning: Large, gigantic [2]
Common Names: Lady of the Night
Height: 4-6 ft
Bloom Color: White/Near White, Cream/Tan

◊ Brunfelsia isola
Common Names: Lady of the Night
Height:18-24 in.
Bloom Color: Blue-Violet, White/Near White

◊ Brunfelsia jamaicensis
jamaicensis- Meaning: Of or from the Jamaican Island[2]
Common Names: Lady of the Night
Height: 24-36 in.
Bloom Color: White/Near White

◊ Brunfelsia lactea
lactea--Meaning: Milky [2]
Common Names: Princess of the Night
Height: 4-6 ft.
Bloom Color: White/Near White


◊ Brunfelsia nyctaginoides
nyctaginoides- Meaning: Resembles four o'clocks (nyctaginea means night-blooming)[2]
Common Names: Unknown
Height: 3 ft.
Bloom Color: Red-Orange
*This is a different looking Brunfelsia than the YT&T. It is interesting and the hummingbirds love it.


◊ Brunfelsia pauciflora
pauciflora-Meaning: Few flowers[2]
Common Names: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Morning, Noon and Night
Brazil Rain Tree
Height: 4-6 ft.
Bloom Color: Rose/Mauve, Purple, White/Near White

◊ Brunfelsia undulata 'White Caps'
undulata- Meaning: Wavy [2]
Common Names: Rain Tree
Height: 4-6 ft.
Bloom Color: White/Near White

◊ Brunfelsia uniflora
uniflora-Meaning: Single flowered [2]
Common Names: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Height: 18-24 in.
Bloom Color: Blue-Violet, White/Near White






L-Brunfelsia jamaicensis              R-Brunfelsia isola

Photo's courtesy of DG member, Clare_CA



     Happy Gardening~

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow shrubs contain poisonous alkaloids. The berries are especially toxic.


Thumbnail photo by Dave's Garden member, Mitjo 


[2] Botanary

[3] PlantFiles

For a great article covering many plants in the Solanaceae family, check out:
The Solanaceae, what a family!
By Jean-Jacques Segalen
Mr. Segalen's article

  About Jacqueline Cross  
Jacqueline CrossI'm a native Floridian...feet planted in the shifting sands of northwest FL. but my heart strings are tightly knotted to the hills of Tennessee. I live with my poodle, Minnie Pearl, Zsa Zsa the cat who runs the whole show and a new addition, Kitty Belle. I'm a writer, gardener, quilter, cross stitcher, soapmaker and nature lover. Mother to 3 wonderful daughters & Nana to 6 perfect grandchildren. I also write for and was promoted to Feature Writer in the vegetable gardens section in 2008.

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