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Hydrangea arborescens

Phonetic Spelling
hy-DRAN-jee-ah ar-bor-ESS-sens
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Hydrangea arborescens, commonly known as smooth hydrangea or wild hydrangea,  is native to moist or rocky wooded slopes, ravines, streambanks, and bluff bases. It is very cold hardy but will also grow in warmer climates. Hydrangea arborescens is the most common Hydrangea in North Carolina. The wild hydrangea is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade and will tolerate full sun only if grown with consistent moisture. It is intolerant of drought, with foliage tending to decline in dry conditions. Its blooms on new wood and should be pruned back close to the ground in late winter to encourage vigorous stem growth. If not pruned back, any weakened and/or damaged stems should be removed in early spring.

Several named cultivars have sterile flowers making a ball-shaped bloom. A few modern hybrids have been bred to have pink flowers. Unlike most other hydrangeas, the flower color is not affected by the soil pH.

Wild hydrangea is susceptible to bud blight, bacterial wilt, leaf spots, mold, rust, and powdery mildew. Aphids, mites, scale, and nematodes may also be a problem.

 

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

 

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

More information on Hydrangea.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Hydrangeas in the Garden Woodland Walk
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Annabelle', 'Grandiflora', 'Haas' Halo', 'Hayes Starburst', 'Incrediball', 'Invincibelle Ruby', 'Invincibelle Spirit', 'Invincibelle Spirit II', 'White Dome'
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#fall color#poisonous#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#honey bees#nectar plant#native shrub#salt tolerant#low maintenance#tsc#fall interest#rabbit resistant#food source#low flammability#NC native#stolon#neutral ph#deer resistant#native garden#fire resistant#colonies#naturalizes#pollinator plant#suckers#food source fall#food source herbage#food source pollen#coastal UPL#wet soils tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Piedmont Mountains FACU#problem for cats#tsc-s#problem for dogs#problem for horses#audubon#shallow soil tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Annabelle', 'Grandiflora', 'Haas' Halo', 'Hayes Starburst', 'Incrediball', 'Invincibelle Ruby', 'Invincibelle Spirit', 'Invincibelle Spirit II', 'White Dome'
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#fall color#poisonous#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#honey bees#nectar plant#native shrub#salt tolerant#low maintenance#tsc#fall interest#rabbit resistant#food source#low flammability#NC native#stolon#neutral ph#deer resistant#native garden#fire resistant#colonies#naturalizes#pollinator plant#suckers#food source fall#food source herbage#food source pollen#coastal UPL#wet soils tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Piedmont Mountains FACU#problem for cats#tsc-s#problem for dogs#problem for horses#audubon#shallow soil tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hydrangea
    Species:
    arborescens
    Family:
    Hydrangeaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    It was used by the Cherokees as an emetic, and as an antiseptic. The inner bark and leaves were chewed as a stimulant, for stomach problems and high blood pressure. A poultice of scraped bark was used for burns and sore or swollen muscles.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Layering
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern U.S.
    Distribution:
    New York to Florida, west to Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The wild hydrangea flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insects. Songbirds eat the seeds. It is the host plant of the hydrangea sphinx moth.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    The Cherokee would eat the new growth of young twigs peeled, boiled or fried.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Dehiscent ribbed brown capsules which ripen in July-September.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Dome
    Radial
    Wheel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The wild hydrangea has tiny white fertile flowers that bloom in May-July in flattened hairy clusters (corymbs to 2-6”across). Scattered continuing flowering may occur throughout summer to September. A few large sterile flowers usually appear at the cluster margins (usually not enough for a quality lacecap effect). Flowers give way to dehiscent seed capsules which ripen in October-November. The native Smooth Hydrangea is white, 6 to 8 inches, flattened corymb in summer; opens white then turns green and brown. The named cultivars have typical ball-shaped hydrangea flowers 8 to 12 inches across. Newer cultivars can be found with pink flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The wild hydrangea has gray-brown stems are clad with opposite, simple, broad egg-shaped to rounded, sharply toothed, dark green leaves (2-6” long) with pale green undersides. The leaves turn yellow in fall. The lower leaf surface is smooth or with inconspicuous fine hairs.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Peeling
    Shredding
    Bark Description:
    Brown and finely shredded, peels off in thin layers with different colors.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Erosion
    Fire
    Rabbits
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, depression, diarrhea, and sweating. Cyanide intoxication is rare - usually produces more of a gastrointestinal disturbance.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Hydrangin, a cyanogenic glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Leaves
    Stems