Schizophragma hydrangeoides - climbing hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea is a deciduous vine which climbs using suction roots, completely covering its support. The leaves are attractively heart-shaped, with toothed edges. The vine flowers white and pink in midsummer, somewhat resembling those of the Japanese climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. The easiest distinguishing feature is that this Japanese has an outer ring of three to five sterile flowers, whereas in Schizophragma hydrangeoides there is only a single large one.

In the moist and shady forests where it is native, the climbing hydrangea has adapted to the limited light filtering through the canopy, and flowers even in almost full shade. The sterile outer flowers remain on the vine long after actual flowering is over, often taking on brilliant orange tones in autumn.

Climbing hydrangea is rare in Finland, probably due to its lack of hardiness. In really cold winters it dies back to ground level even on the south coast. However, with sufficient snow cover, as at Mustila, it seems to thrive, so would probably best be used as creeping ground cover. In addition to plants of nursery origin, Mustila has others grown from seed of Kunashir and Ullung Island provenances, which may prove hardier.


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