Hardy Tropical Plants of the Mediterranean

Hardy tropical plants of the Mediterranean present gardeners all over the world with fresh opportunities to rethink how their traditional gardens could change and grow in a new direction. These plants are generally tougher and more self-sufficient than other varieties of flowers and trees that require constant attention. They also adapt easily to growing conditions in many parts of the world where they now thrive.

The Mullein

The mullein (Verbascum genus) is a tall and graceful biennial plant whose range of cultivars produces a host of colorful flowers, from pink through light brown, in the form of terminal spikes. The cultivar Gainsborough, for example, exhibits light yellow, saucer-shaped blooms and gray-green leaves. The mullein grows to heights of over 3 feet, preferring full sun and well-drained, sandy soil. This hardy plant can tolerate dry conditions. The Verbascum genus has about 210 species that grow in Europe, Asia and North Africa.The mullein is a member of the Scrophulariaceae family that is comprised of about 200 genera and 2,500 species. In Europe and Asia during earlier times, people used the mullein to ward off evil and magic. In literature, Ulysses protected himself from Circe by invoking the mullein.


Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a favorite of herb gardeners worldwide, used in stuffings for poultry, rabbit, fish, sausage and meatloaf. It is an aromatic evergreen shrub with attractive, oblong gray-green leaves and blue and purple summer blooms on short spikes. Spring sowing is ideal. Plant sage about 1/8 inch deep and ensure the soil remains moist during the early growing period. You will need to harvest the sage before flowers appear. Gather the sprigs and allow them to dry in a cool location before detaching the leaves from the stems. This shrub does best in well-drained soil and full sun, usually growing to heights of about 3 feet. Sage is drought tolerant.

Garden Rue

Garden rue (Ruta graveolens) originates in southern Europe and northern Africa. This evergreen bush features yellow summertime flowers and blue-green leaves that are highly aromatic and produce a spice that is bitter in taste. The berries of this bush are also bitter. Garden rue has both culinary and medicinal uses. For example, it enhances salads, flavors Italian grappa (brandy) and eases toothache, according to the TopTropicals plant catalog. It is a member of the Rutaceae family.

Canary Island Date Palm

The Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) is native to the Canary Islands, located southwest of Spain in the Atlantic. This slow-growing but imposing tree attains heights of around 60 feet, but if pruned to have only one trunk, it can grow to over 100 feet tall. It has a thick, diamond-patterned trunk and deep green foliage. Red dates emerge from the white flowers of female trees, but only if a male tree is in the vicinity. The Canary Island date palm is a member of the Arecaceae family. It is a popular choice as a landscape tree or to complement a large Mediterranean-theme residence.

Keywords: tropical Mediterranean plants, garden rue, Canary Island palm

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Maureen Katemopoulos has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years. Her articles on travel, the arts, cuisine and history have appeared in publications such as "Stanislaus Magazine," "Orientations," "The Asia Magazine" and "The Peninsula Group Magazine." She holds a Baccalaureate degree in journalism from Stanford University.