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Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth hydrangea)
Bloodworth, Stefan

Hydrangea arborescens

Hydrangea arborescens L.

Smooth Hydrangea, Wild Hydrangea, Sevenbark

Hydrangeaceae (Hydrangea Family)

Synonym(s): Hydrangea arborescens var. oblonga, Hydrangea arborescens var. sterilis

USDA Symbol: hyar

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (I)

Small, mound-shaped, densely multi-stemmed shrub, usually 3-6 ft. tall, wild hydrangea is often broader than high at maturity. The flat-topped clusters of delicate, greenish-white flowers are the deciduous shrub’s main landscape feature. Some flowers are so heavy as to weigh the stem to the ground. Fall foliage is insignificant.


From the Image Gallery

32 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall, often shorter.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: S. NY to s.e. MO, s. to FL, LA & OK
Native Habitat: Rich woods; rocky slopes; stream banks

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Rich, well-drained, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Wild hydrangea suckers freely, creeping over large areas. It is susceptible to sunscald, chlorosis in alkaline soils, and winter dieback. Many weak, brittle canes are easily broken in wind and ice. Fast-growing and short-lived, this hydrangea is often treated as an herbaceous perennial and cut to the ground every winter. If the canes are allowed to grow, the naturally peeling bark is attractive. The plant will need supplemental watering in hot, dry summers.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Hydrangea sphinx
(Darapsa versicolor)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Propagate by seed or cuttings. Softwood cuttings, which should be taken early, root extremely easily.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require no sepcial treatment but need careful handling because they are so small.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA
First United Methodist Church of Jefferson City - Jefferson City, TN
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Hydrangea arborescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hydrangea arborescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hydrangea arborescens


Record Modified: 2022-10-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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