One of the greatest joys of being a plant enthusiast, I think, is stumbling upon and having the chance to learn a new plant, especially one as unique and unusual as this month’s Plant of the Month. Edgeworthia chrysantha, known commonly as the paperbush or simply as Edgeworthia, is a largely unknown shrub, related to daphne. In my year with the Scott Arboretum, I’ve enjoyed observing how this deciduous shrub progresses through the seasons.
When I first saw Edgeworthia in the Isabelle Cosby Courtyard this past summer, it was covered with narrow oblanceolate leaves, forming a neat, round form, characteristic of edgeworthia. Towards the end of the summer, flower buds began forming at the branch tips of this specimen; these were the buds that were to serve as this spring’s flowers, the ones that are beautifully in bloom now. Moving into the fall-once the leaves of E. chrysantha fell-the large white flower buds provided ornamental value that lasted through the winter. And just last month, the edgeworthia buds began to open, revealing bright yellow, tubular flowers with a sweet fragrance. This is definitely a unique sight, one worth seeking out, and one that is on display now at the Scott Arboretum!
The Edgeworthia chrysantha in the Cosby Courtyard is arguably the best specimen on campus, illustrating a nearly perfect form. However, another example of a mature edgeworthia plant can be found in the Terry Shane Teaching garden and two very small specimens can be found in the Harry Wood Garden and south of Martin Hall. To develop the best possible form, E. chrysantha should be grown in full sun. Our curator, Andrew Bunting, also suggests planting edgeworthia close to entryways or pathways, so that its spring fragrance can be best appreciated!
Come out to visit the Scott Arboretum this month, to observe this beautiful unusual plant as well as others!