I had a hard time deciding on just one plant for the month of March and I was able to narrow it down to two highly notable species and since they happen to be in the same family, I figured I’d mention the family as an excuse to have two plants this time around.
One of these plants many of us are familiar with because of it’s remarkable winter fragrance. Daphne odora. The other one is more familiar to collectors and is not as readily available, but just as dramatic and also wonderfully scented. That plant is Edgeworthia, the Chinese Paper Bush.
Both are members of a family that’s difficult to really define as there aren’t any very obvious diagnostic traits to identify it. In Landscape Plant identification, however, it’s a family known for woody shrubs producing very fragrant winter blossoms. They also have smooth bark and fibers that make them valuable in quality paper making.
First of, let’s discuss the ever popular Daphne odora. It is, by far, the most intoxicating scent in the winter garden. It has a very heady perfume and some are reminded of the children’s cereal, Fruit Loops, when they come close to admire it! The most common selected cultivar of Daphne odora is ‘Aureo-marginata’, basically implying the variable gold edges on the foliage. This species is evergreen, but ‘Aureo-marginata’ tends to be sprawly and have a poor growth habit. A newer selection called ‘Zuiko Nishiki’ looks to be a more promising cultivar with a better growth habit that’s more upright and the foliage appears cleaner, refined, but lacks the gold edge.
Common Name: Winter Daphne
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, Miller Library/Merrill Entrance
Origin: China/Garden Origin
Height and spread: 2ft. high and 4ft. wide.
Bloom Time: Winter
Edgeworthia chrysantha has been a much sought after collector’s plant for years, but it’s becoming more readily available. It has a really architectural look to its multi-stemmed habit and light, cinnamon colored stems. It makes a rounded shrub with lush foliage during growing season as it begins to set buds for the following winter’s blooms which are a deep creamy yellow and possess a fabulous scent. They can be finicky to get established. Make you you choose a spot with sun/part shade, and it benefits from a protected location as well as it’s not as hardy as the Daphnes here in the Pacific Northwest. Rich, well drained soil is a must along with regular irrigation during the summer and fall while buds are setting and avoid moving it around as with most daphnes, mature specimens will sulk if transplanted.
A wild form of Edgeworthia chrysantha
Common Name: Chinese Paper Bush, Yellow Daphne
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, Miller Library North beds
Height and spread: 6ft. high and 6-7ft. wide (usually smaller)
Bloom Time: Winter