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A shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots very stout, ribbed, and thickly clothed with stiff transparent bristles and small erect hairs, giving the shoot a remarkable, somewhat mossy aspect. Leaves ovate, with a rounded base, 4 to 5 in. long, 2 to 3 in. wide on the flowering shoots; but broadly ovate, with a heart-shaped base, 6 to 10 in. long by 4 to 7 in. wide on the sterile shoots, deep dull green, and covered with minute hairs above; pale, bristly, and prominently net-veined beneath; stalk 1 to 41⁄2 in. long, bristly and downy. Flowers produced in July and August in a flattish corymb 6 to 9 in. across, with sterile flowers, 11⁄4 in. across, pinkish white, confined to the outside; fertile flowers deep rosy-lilac; flower-stalks downy, the main ones bristly also. Bot. Mag., t. 8447.
A native of W. Hupch, China; introduced by Wilson in 1908, while collecting for the Arnold Aboretum. Well grown, this is a magnificent shrub, but it is not often seen in good condition. It is too frequently given a position in shady woodland where it suffers from the competition of tree-roots and becomes an ugly gaunt single-stemmed plant, deserving the condemnation or qualified praise that is often accorded it. The ideal conditions for this species are a rich soil and a position where it has abundant light but some protection from the midday sun. Grown thus, it will become as noble in habit as it is in leaf, clothed to the ground with foliage and becoming ever wider thanks to the abundantly produced suckcrs. It is perfectly hardy in its wood and recovers remarkably quickly from damage suffered by spring frosts. Mid-May frosts may kill every leaf but the damage simply stimulates the young shoots (which are more resistant) to produce a second flush of growth and within a space of less than a month the whole plant is again furnished with leaves. Earlier frosts may be more damaging, but even from these it quickly recovers. But like so many other hydrangeas, it is vulnerable when very young and still semi-herbaceous.