Hydrangea heteromalla D. Don

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Hydrangea heteromalla' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/hydrangea/hydrangea-heteromalla/). Accessed 2024-06-21.


  • H. vestita Wall.
  • H. khasiana Hook. f. & Thoms.
  • H. dumicola W. W. Sm.
  • H. xanthoneura Diels
  • H. hypoglauca Rehd.
  • H. mandarinorum Diels (for a fuller list of synonyms see McClintock, op. cit., p. 215)


Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Lying flat against an object.
(pl. calyces) Outer whorl of the perianth. Composed of several sepals.
Heart-shaped (i.e. with two equal lobes at the base).
In form of corymb.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
A covering of hairs or scales.
Taxonomic account of a single genus or family.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Leaf stalk.
Enlarged end of a flower stalk that bears floral parts; (in some Podocarpaceae) fleshy structure bearing a seed formed by fusion of lowermost seed scales and peduncle.
With saw-like teeth at edge. serrulate Minutely serrate.
Dense layer of soft hairs. tomentose With tomentum.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Hydrangea heteromalla' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/hydrangea/hydrangea-heteromalla/). Accessed 2024-06-21.

A deciduous shrub or small tree; young branchlets clad with short erect or appressed hairs, lenticellate; second-year stems with a close bark (but see cv. ‘Bretschneideri’). Leaves variable in shape, mostly ovate to broad-ovate, cuneate to rounded or sometimes cordate at the base, 312 to 8 in. long, 114 to 512 in. wide, serrate, glabrous or with scattered hairs above, the underside usually more or less densely coated with appressed or spreading hairs, but sometimes glabrous except for hairs on the veins; petiole 12 to 114 in. long. Inflorescence corymbose. Fertile flowers white, numerous, with usually ten stamens; ovary semi-inferior, i.e., its upper part projecting above the rim of the receptacle, which bears five triangular calyx-lobes about 110 in. long; styles two to four. Ray-flowers always present, white, 1 to 2 in. across. Capsules surmounted by the thickened bases of the styles and with the rim of the receptacle persisting at or slightly above the middle.

H. heteromalla ranges from the Himalayan region of Kumaon eastward and northward to western, west central and northern China. It was described from Nepal and introduced in 1821, though the present garden stock is wholly or for the most part of much more recent origin. It varies in leaf-shape and indumentum and numerous species have been made out of these variations, none of which is recognised by Miss McClintock – hence the long list of synonyms.

Before the publication of Miss McClintock’s monograph the name H. heteromalla was used in a narrower sense for a hydrangea fairly common in collections, with leaves 3 to 8 in. long, 112 to 3 in. wide, covered with a close tomentum beneath, with reddish petioles. It is of erect habit, flowers in July and August, and attains a height of 20 ft or more in the milder parts. It is quite hardy south of London and often produces self-sown offspring in great abundance. Other forms of the species were introduced from China by Wilson and by Forrest, but none of these are on the average any better than the more typical form of the species.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This was reintroduced by the University of North Wales Expedition to east Nepal in 1971 (B.L. & M. 222), and later by Roy Lancaster from Mount Omei in western Szechwan, China.

Bretschneideri Group

A shrub 8 to 10 ft high, forming a sturdy bush; second-year stems chestnut-brown, peeling. Leaves oblong to ovate, 3 to 5 in. long, 1 to 2{1/4} in. wide, sparsely hairy beneath. Corymbs flattened, 4 to 6 in. wide (H. bretschneideri Dipp.; H. pekinensis Hort.).This hydrangea was very properly included by Miss McClintock in H. heteromalla without distinction, but is now regarded as best treated as a Cultivar Group (amended JMG 2022), on the grounds that all the plants under the name H. bretschneideri descend from seeds collected by Dr. Bretschneider in the mountains near Peking and probably represent a clone or at least a group of similar clones. The type of the species was one of these plants. Members of Bretschneideri Group are easy to distinguish from other forms of H. heteromalla by their peeling second-year bark, and are probably the most suitable for general cultivation, being completely hardy and of moderate size.