Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chinese Broadleaf

Helwingia japonica
The lone species in the Helwinga family, it is native to Japan, central & western China, Bhutan, Burma and Taiwan.
It is a handsome, vigorous, large arching shrub, it can reach a maximum size of 15 x 17 feet though usually less than half that.
The bristly-toothed, elliptical leaves are up to 7 x 4.5 inches in size. The foliage is glossy deep green above, pale green beneath; turning to purple-gray during autumn. The foliage is similar to that of Aucuba but is deciduous.
The leaves on vigorous stems are elliptic and leaves on older branches are more ovate. They are borne on leafstalks up to 2 inches in length.
The small, greenish-white flowers are borne from the leaves during late spring.
They are followed by small ovoid black berries late summer into fall.
The stems are yellowish-green.
Hardy zone 6 to 8 ( based on seed source from coldest parts of natural range ).
It prefers moist shady conditions and is excellent for planting in a woodland understory.
Propagation is from seed sown after 4 to 5 month cold stratification; also from severing the lateral root suckers that naturally enable this shrub to eventually form a thicket.

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* historic archive photo

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