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Botany Photo of the Day
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Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

This photograph was taken in mid-March last year in Portland's Leach Botanical Garden. For 2013, Wendy Cutler reports that it was already starting to bloom in early January in Vancouver (BC). If you're in the Portland area, I'd guess that it is also blooming there now, since it seems to be an early spring this year (according to the wildflower reports).

A fragrant bloomer like its familial relatives, Daphne spp., Edgeworthia chrysantha's scent is described as "soft, clove-like". However, its perfume is not reflected in its common names: Oriental paperbush or mitsumata. Mitsumata translates to "three forks" or "three-pronged fork", a description of how the plants branch (which you can see via Wendy's photographs in the link above). The Oriental of Oriental paperbush refers to the native distribution of the species in China, while paperbush alludes to its primary economic use. Cultivated extensively in Japan and China for papermaking, this use dates back to approximately 1600 CE (unfortunately, the links to larger images on that site appear to be broken). To learn more about how the bark fibre of Edgeworthia chrysantha is used in papermaking, consult Khartasia (a project of the Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections): Edgeworthia chrysantha.

Unfortunately, this species is absent from UBC Botanical Garden's collections -- something I'll have to push the Curator of the David C. Lam Asian Garden to rectify.

11 Comments

I wish you could include scents with your photos and descriptions. Some day the internets will provide....

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this plant. I've only ever seen it in that one place, don't know why it's not planted all over the place. It's the sunniest of things to come across in the winter, and now mid-February, the fragrance is very noticeable.

I like the variation in the flower colours. Each flower head looks different, so I always have to examine all of them. Puts me in a good mood till I get home and see how little my photos captured of what I like about them. It must me the smell that's missing.

It's nice to read more about them. So glad you posted this, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in the UBCBG garden.

interesting information. there are two plants that were planted in the library gardens in Sidney BC, last year. The garden is a lovely place to be, full of plants that do well here and as I am a frequent visitor to the library and an avid gardener I have been watching how the edgeworthia likes it in this location. One of the plants has flower buds and the other one is struggling. Next time I return my books I will take time to smell the emerging flowers.must remember to take my camera next time I am there.

There is a red flowering Edgeworthia (honestly said more deep orange) that many people prefer. Personally I find the pale yellow flowers floating in the winter mists perfectly suited to the mood of the season.

Thank you, Wendy. You gardeners from the Northwest of the US as you talk about your gardening experiences start to make me feel like a Hobbit yearning to leave MiddleEarth (Upstate New York) and sail west. Sigh....

i guess if you like to write this is the plant one would need
skip office depot grow your own the papers from
japan are just lovely as well as china an early spring
post some spring time or we will miss it

up state ny means more snow you could come
to selby gardens in fl we have wildflowers

thank you all and good night sweet dreams

Got married at Leach. Great little botanical garden. Incredible patches of Trillium there.

I discovered this plant at the Botanical Garden in Charleston SC last spring. The scent is heavenly. And the flowers delicate in their beauty.

I saw this plant with flowers in Sikkim.

I believe there's one in bloom and perfuming the air right now at Van Dusen. Definitely a double-blessing, beauty and fragrance.

I had this plant in my front garden in South Surrey for 6 or 7 years. It was a delight every time I walked past. The fragrance was wonderful. It even came through our harsh winter of 2008 without complaint. Unfortunately, the very wet and cold winter of 2010 (or was it 2009?) killed it. Anyway, I found a "replacement" of the orange variety and it is beginning to bloom now. Unfortunately, it barely has a fragrance. I'm still on the lookout for a real replacement!

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