Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September UW Plant Profile: Clethra

Each month the UW Botanic Gardens' Newsletter, E-Flora, posts in detail about a specific plant, among many other interesting posts about events and general information.

This month's feature is  about the Chinese Clethra or Clethra fargesii,.

Here is the posting:

September 2017 Plant Profile: Clethra fargesii
Clethra fargesii

When it comes to outstanding summer flowering shrubs for Pacific Northwest gardens, one should not overlook the genus Clethra. The stunning Clethra fargesii, a.k.a. Chinese Clethra, is native to Central China prefers partial shade and moist woodland soil conditions for peak flowering and fall color performance. Clethra is a genus of about 75 species, mostly native to south and east Asia and the Americas.  It is one of two genera in the Clethraceae, which is closely related to the Ericaceae (Heather family).  They prefer lime-free soil and produce white, fragrant flowers in long racemes or panicles in July or August. I just spent a week exploring a Carolinian forest back in SW Connecticut enjoying the native sweet scented Clethra alnifolia, commonly named Summersweet or Sweet Pepperbush. Upon returning to Seattle, I made an easy decision to refamiliarize myself with our Clethra collection and choose one to feature for this post. It did not take me long to choose my personal favorite, Clethra fargesii, once I saw the spectacular bark on our specimen located outside the Japanese Garden, along the sidewalk plantings adjacent to Lake Washington Blvd.

Is this bark “Wow or What!”
The stunning Clethra fargesii, a.k.a. Chinese Clethra, is native to Central China prefers partial shade and moist woodland soil conditions for peak flowering and fall color performance.
10″ long fruiting racemes

Our 2 mature specimens in Rhododendron Glen
Common Name: Chinese Clethra (English); cheng kou qi ye shu (Chinese)
Location: Three specimens at the Washington Park Arboretum; Accessions 280-61*B & C located on map grid 15-2E and 307-42*A on map grid 3-1W. Use our interactive map link to pinpoint specimen locations.
Origin: Central China Eastern Sichuan, western Hubei and parts of Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces at 4,000 to 7,800 ft. elevation. Introduced in 1900 by Ernest Wilson.
Height and Spread: 10' x 6' (mature)
Bloom Time: Summer July through August

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