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Hydrangea quercifolia is often confused with:
Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' Form
Hydrangea anomala Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
Native alternative(s) for Hydrangea quercifolia:
Itea virginica Itea virginica
Vaccinium corymbosum Vaccinium corymbosum
Vaccinium virgatum Vaccinium virgatum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Oxydendrum arboreum Oxydendrum arboreum leaves in the fall in Moore County
Acer rubrum Acer rubrum
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Hydrangea quercifolia has some common insect problems:
Aphids on Ornamental Landscape Plants
Twospotted Spider Mites on Landscape Plants

Hydrangea quercifolia

Phonetic Spelling
hy-DRAN-jee-ah kwer-sih-FOH-lee-ah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Oakleaf hydrangea is an upright, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub in the Hydrangeaceae (hydrangea) family. While this family of flowering shrubs is widely distributed in Asia and North America, this particular plant is native to the Southeastern United States, where it prefers moist woods and stream banks. It may grow to 8 feet in height and 6 to 8 feet in width. The plant’s genus name comes from the Greek word hydor, meaning water, and aggeion, meaning vessel, which refers to the fruit capsule. The species name indicates the resemblance of its leaves to that of the oak tree (Quercus).

Oakleaf hydrangea grows best in organically rich, well-drained soils with medium moisture. It does well in full sun to part shade, and mulch in the summer helps to keep the soil moist. The plant does need some sun to bloom, usually from mid spring to early summer. Because blooming occurs on old wood, prune if needed immediately after flowering. Winter damaged stems may be pruned in early spring.

The white blooms are arranged in pyramidal clusters that are very showy. Even when not in bloom, the large dark green leaves provide a striking shape. The plant’s more mature branches have an interesting texture when exfoliated in winter.

Oakleaf hydrangea’s unique features make it highly suitable as a specimen or accent plant in the landscape. Alternatively, in large open spaces it may be massed or arranged as an informal hedge.

Quick ID Hints:

  • unique, oak-shaped leaf
  • reddish-brown exfoliating bark on adult plants
  • panicles of white flowers turning pink, then brown
  • imbricate, tomentose, brown buds - terminal largest

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Aphids and spider mites are occasional visitors.  Some susceptibility to leaf blight and powdery mildew.

More information on Hydrangea.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Woodland Walk Wild Side- A Shady Garden Cottage Style Foundation Planting Sun and Shade Demo Garden, Buncombe County Hydrangeas in the Garden Native/ Woodland Garden Shade Garden Collector’s Garden Michael McCarthy Memorial Garden, All Saints Episcopal, Concord Shade Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Alice', 'Brido', 'Ellen Huff', 'Flemygea', 'Harmony' , 'Ice Crystal', 'Little Honey', 'Munchkin', 'Natl Arb', 'Pee Wee', 'Pia', 'Ruby Slippers', 'Ruby Slippers’, 'Sikes Dwarf', 'Sikes Dwarf', 'Snowflake', 'Snow Queen'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#drought tolerant#fall flowers#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#small shrub#slow growing#nectar plant#native shrub#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#mass planting#mixed borders#year-round interest#hedges#food source wildlife#cpp#NC native#nighttime garden#children's garden#playground plant#cutting garden#edible seeds#pollinator plant#fantz#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#dried arrangements#food source fall#flowers early summer#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#woodland garden#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#mccarthy memorial garden#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Alice', 'Brido', 'Ellen Huff', 'Flemygea', 'Harmony' , 'Ice Crystal', 'Little Honey', 'Munchkin', 'Natl Arb', 'Pee Wee', 'Pia', 'Ruby Slippers', 'Ruby Slippers’, 'Sikes Dwarf', 'Sikes Dwarf', 'Snowflake', 'Snow Queen'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#drought tolerant#fall flowers#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#small shrub#slow growing#nectar plant#native shrub#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#mass planting#mixed borders#year-round interest#hedges#food source wildlife#cpp#NC native#nighttime garden#children's garden#playground plant#cutting garden#edible seeds#pollinator plant#fantz#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#dried arrangements#food source fall#flowers early summer#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#woodland garden#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#mccarthy memorial garden#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hydrangea
    Species:
    quercifolia
    Family:
    Hydrangeaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern USA
    Wildlife Value:
    Its flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insects. Songbirds eat the seeds.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Irregular
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    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:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Noted for producing showy pyramidal 4-12" erect panicles of creamy white flowers in late spring and summer, 3-4" wide. The fragrant flowers fade to pink, then tan in the fall. White, changing to pink, then brownish, 1-1 ½" diameter; larger, sterile flowers occur towards the base of the panicle, fertile flowers are creamy and fragrant and occur toward the tip. Blooming begins in May and June and last throughout the summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Clad with dark green, large, opposite, simple, bold, leathery 3-7 lobed, oak-like leaves. The leaves are fuzzy when young and grow to 3-8" long, 2-6" wide. Fall colors are wine, orange, mahogany. Opposite, simple, ovate in outline; lobes are serrate, sinus entire; medium to dark green and glabrous above, whitish-brown tomentose below; 1-2 ½" long petiole.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Orange
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Papery
    Bark Description:
    Exfoliating branches with brown papery bark that reveals cinnamon-colored bark underneath especially as branches age .
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Upright stems with little branching. Stout; older plants have prominent lenticels and exfoliating cinnamon-brown bark; prominent, large leaf scars in inverted triangle shape. Imbricate, brownish, tomentose, 4-6 scales; terminal bud much larger than laterals.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, sweating.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Hydrangin, a cyanogenic glycoside.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Leaves