False Hydrangea

2 Dec

False Hydrangea (Dichroa febrifuga), evergreen shrub growing to 4-6 feet in height with equal spread, rounded, dark green foliage, clusters of small blue flowers summer, followed by metallic blue berries, full sun to light shade, good cut flower.

The 4 to 8 inch long dark green leaves resemble the foliage of Hydrangea with prominent veins and small serrations. The terminal end of the branches hold clusters of hydrangea-like flowers with white buds opening to bright blue flowers in spring and summer that are followed by metallic blue berries. As with the blue forms of Hydrangea the shade of blue of the flower is determined by soil pH (actually the availability of aluminum) and more acid soils produce bluer flowers. Plant in sun to light shade with moderately moist soil. It is hardy and evergreen to 20-25 degrees F but defoliates much below these temperatures but plants knocked back by cold resprout from hard wood. Dichroa febrifuga is native to Nepal eastwards to southern China and into south-east Asia, where it grows at the forest edge. The specific epithet febrifuga is in reference to the use of the plant as a febrifuge, acting to reduce fever. Its use as such is reported in the Himalayas, Malaysia and China and the plant is reportedly cultivated in Russia as an anti-malarial herb.

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