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Hydrangea macrophylla is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 3.00 metres tall.
It has edible, medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
E. Asia - Japan.
Sunny places near the coast of E. Japan[
Tolerates most soil[
], thriving in a well-drained loamy soil[
], but resenting dryness at the roots[
]. Succeeds in full sun or semi-shade[
], but if it is grown in a low rainfall area then it requires shade at the hottest part of the day[
]. Prefers a shady position[
]. Does well on very acid soils with a pH around 4.5[
]. Plants also tolerate alkaline soils, though they become chlorotic on shallow soils over chalk[
]. The colour of the flowers reflects the pH of the soil the plant is growing in, the flowers are pink in a neutral to alkaline soil and blue in an acid soil[
]. A very wind resistant plant when grown in mild areas[
Dormant plants are hardy to about -10°c[
], though the young growth in spring is frost-tender[
A very ornamental plant and polymorphic species[
], there are many named varieties[
]. This species was named for a sterile (or 'mop head') cultivar so that the true species should really be referred to as H. macrophylla normalis[
Plants are cultivated for their leaves in China and Japan.
Plants are very tolerant of pruning and can be cut back into old wood if required[
This species is notably susceptible to honey fungus[
The young leaves, when dried and rubbed between the hands, become very sweet and are used to make a sweet tea called 'tea of heaven', it is used in Buddhist ceremonies[
]. The leaves contain phellodulcin (its chemical formula is C16 H14 O), a very sweet substance that can be used as a sugar substitute[
]. One small leaf is sufficient to sweeten a cup of tea[
]. The older leaves can be dried, powdered and used as a flavouring on foods[
]. The young leaves and shoots are also eaten cooked[
]. Young leaves contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid, this reduces as the leaves grow older, often to zero levels[
The leaves, roots and flowers are antimalarial, antitussive and diuretic[
]. They are said to be a more potent antimalarial than quinine, due to the presence of an alkaloid[
A useful hedging plant because of its vigorous growth. The Hortensias or mop-head cultivars are recommended[
Seed - surface sow in a greenhouse in spring[
]. Cover the pot with paper until the seed germinates[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8cm long, mid summer in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring[
Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame[
Mound layering in spring. Takes 12 months[
Leaf-bud cuttings of the current seasons growth in a frame[