Hydrangea macrophylla

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Hydrangea macrophylla
Hydrangea May 2012-1.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Cornales
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus: Hydrangea
H. macrophylla
Binomial name
Hydrangea macrophylla
(Thunb.) Ser.
  • Hortensia opuloides Lam.
  • Hydrangea chungii Rehder
  • Hydrangea hortensia Siebold
  • Hydrangea hortensis Sm.
  • Hydrangea maritima Haw.-Booth
  • Hydrangea opuloides (Lam.) K.Koch
  • Hydrangea otaksa Siebold & Zucc.
  • Viburnum macrophyllum Thunb.

Hydrangea macrophylla is a species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangeaceae, native to Japan. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2 m (7 ft) tall by 2.5 m (8 ft) broad with large heads of pink or blue flowers in summer and autumn.[1] Common names include bigleaf hydrangea, French hydrangea, lacecap hydrangea, mophead hydrangea, penny mac and hortensia. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world in many climates. It is not to be confused with H. aspera 'Macrophylla'.


Close-up on a flower showing coloured sepals around the five petals.

The term macrophylla means large- or long-leaved.[2] The opposite leaves can grow to 15 cm (6 in) in length. They are simple, membranous, orbicular to elliptic and acuminate. They are generally serrated.

The inflorescence of Hydrangea macrophylla is a corymb, with all flowers placed in a plane or a hemisphere or even a whole sphere in cultivated forms. Two distinct types of flowers can be identified: central non-ornamental fertile flowers and peripheral ornamental flowers, usually described as "sterile". A study of several cultivars showed that all the flowers were fertile but the non-ornamental flowers were pentamers while the decorative flowers were tetramers. The four sepals of decorative flowers have colors ranging from pale pink to red fuchsia purple to blue. The non-decorative flowers have five small greenish sepals and five small petals. Flowering lasts from early summer to early winter. The fruit is a subglobose capsule.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Hydrangea macrophylla is native to Japan and possibly Korea.[3][4] It is reported from seaside habitats as well as mountains in Japan, from Honshu southwards.[4] This species has naturalized in China, New Zealand and the Americas.[5]

Enchantress Hydrangea found in Almora district

Colors and soil acidity[edit]

Hydrangea macrophylla blooms can be blue, red, pink, light purple, or dark purple. The color is affected by soil pH.[6][7] An acidic soil (pH below 7) will usually produce flower color closer to blue, whereas an alkaline soil (pH above 7) will produce flowers more pink. This is caused by a color change of the flower pigments in the presence of aluminium ions which can be taken up into hyperaccumulating plants.


In climates where Hydrangea macrophylla flowers, place in a mixed shrub border or at the back of a flower bed. Its rich foliage and large size make it a wonderful background for white or light colored flowers, even tall growing perennials and annuals. In warm climates H. macrophylla is good for adding a splash of early summer color to shady areas and woodland gardens. Minimal pruning is recommended for most prolific flowering. Flowers are easily air dried and are long lasting.

While Hydrangea macrophylla is not considered a particularly difficult plant to grow, it may fail to flower. This may be due to cold winter damage to the flower buds, not getting enough sunlight, too much nitrogen fertilizer, or pruning at the wrong time of year. H. macrophylla forms flower buds in late summer. As a result, pruning in late summer, fall or winter could remove potential flowers. [8]


Inflorescences of Hydrangea macrophylla

Phyllodulcin, hydrangenol, and their 8-O-glucosides, and thunberginols A and F can be found in H. macrophylla.[9] Thunberginol B,[10] the dihydroisocoumarins thunberginol C, D and E, the dihydroisocoumarin glycosides thunberginol G 3'-O-glucoside and (−)-hydrangenol 4'-O-glucoside[11] and four kaempferol and quercetin oligoglycosides[12] can be found in Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium, the processed leaves of H. macrophylla var. thunbergii. The leaves also contain the stilbenoid hydrangeic acid.[13]

The various colors, such as red, mauve, purple, violet and blue, in H. macrophylla are developed from one simple anthocyanin, delphinidin 3-glucoside (myrtillin), which forms complexes with metal ions called metalloanthocyanins.[14][15]

Lunularic acid, lunularin, 3,4′-dihydroxystilbene and a glycoside of lunularic acid have been found in the roots of H. macrophylla.[16]

Hydrangine is another name for the coumarin umbelliferone, and may be responsible for the possible toxicity of the plant.

Possible uses[edit]

Bud and leaves of Hydrangea macrophylla
Hydrangea macrophylla by Abraham Jacobus Wendel, 1868

Amacha is a Japanese beverage made from fermented leaves of Hydrangea macrophylla var. thunbergii.

Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium is a drug made from the fermented and dried leaves of H. macrophylla var. thunbergii with possible antiallergic and antimicrobial properties.[17] It also has a hepatoprotective activity by suppression of D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in vitro and in vivo.[18]

Hydrangea macrophylla is included in the Tasmanian Fire Service's list of low flammability plants, indicating that it is suitable for growing within a building protection zone.[19]

Leaf extracts of Hydrangea macrophylla are being investigated as a possible source of new chemical compounds with antimalarial activity.[20][21] Hydrangeic acid from the leaves is being investigated as a possible anti-diabetic drug as it significantly lowered blood glucose, triglyceride, and free fatty acid levels in laboratory animals.[13]


The two main types of H. macrophylla cultivars are called mophead and lacecap. Other types are in different species. [22]

Some popular hydrangea cultivars (those marked agm have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit) include:[23]

  • 'All Summer Beauty' a cold-hardy, floriferous mophead
  • 'Alpengluhen' a deep-red colored mophead
  • 'Altona'[24]agm
  • 'Ami Pasquier'[25] a floriferous, wine pink to blue mophead
  • 'Bailmer' (marketed as Endless Summer) a perpetual-blooming, pink to blue mophead
  • 'Beaute Vendomoise' a giant whitish-pink lacecap
  • 'Blaumeise'[26] agm a Swiss-bred "Teller" blue lacecap
  • 'Blue Bonnet' a hardy, blue mophead
  • 'Blue Wave' a robust light pink to light blue lacecap
  • 'Blushing Bride' a cold-hardy, ever-blooming white mophead
  • 'Europa'[27] agm
  • 'Forever Pink' a pink mophead
  • 'Générale Vicomtesse de Vibraye'[28]agm a cold-hardy, French-bred pink to blue mophead
  • 'Hamburg' a deep-colored pink to blue mophead
  • 'Harlequin' a picoteed pink to purple mophead
  • 'Lanarth White'[29]agm
  • 'Lilacina' a cold-hardy, disease-resistant pink to blue lacecap
  • ’Love You Kiss[30] agm red-margined white florets, lacecap
  • 'Madame Emile Mouillère'[31]agm small shrub to 1.8 m (5.9 ft), white flowers
  • 'Marechal Foch' an old-fashioned pink to blue mophead
  • 'Mariesii Grandiflora'[32]
  • 'Mariesii Lilacina'[33]agm
  • 'Mariesii Perfecta'[34]
  • 'Möwe'[35]agm
  • 'Nigra'[36]
  • 'Nikko Blue' a popular, cold-hardy pink to blue mophead
  • 'Pia' a dwarf pink to purplish-blue mophead
  • 'Penny Mac' a cold-hardy, pink to blue mophead
  • ’Rotschwantz’[37] agm deep red lacecap
  • 'Soeur Therese' a hardy, robust white mophead
  • 'Taube' a Swiss-bred "Teller", pink to blue lacecap
  • 'Tokyo Delight'[38]agm
  • 'Twist-N-Shout an ever-blooming, hardy pink to blue lacecap
  • 'Veitchii'[39]agm an exceptionally disease-resistant, sun-tolerant white lacecap
  • 'Westfalen'[40]agm
  • ’Zorro’[41] agm lacecap blue



  1. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  2. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315.
  3. ^ Iwatsuki, Kunio; Boufford, David E.; Ohba, Hideaki (1993). Flora of Japan. IIb. Kodansha. pp. 89–91. ISBN 9784061546059.
  4. ^ a b Ohwi, Jisaburo; Meyer, Frederick G.; Walker, Egbert H. (1965). Flora of Japan. Smithsonian Institution. p. 511.
  5. ^ Wiersema, John H.; León, Blanca (2016). World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference, Second Edition. CRC Press. p. 357. ISBN 9781466576810.
  6. ^ University of Georgia: Growing Bigleaf Hydrangea
  7. ^ USDA: Hydrangea Questions and Answers
  8. ^ "Growing Bigleaf Hydrangea | UGA Cooperative Extension". extension.uga.edu. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  9. ^ Matsuda, H.; Shimoda, H.; Yamahara, J.; Yoshikawa, M. (1999). "Effects of Phyllodulcin, Hydrangenol, and their 8-O-Glucosides, and Thunberginols A and F from Hydrangea macrophylla SERINGE var. thunbergii MAKINO on Passive Cutaneous Anaphylaxis Reaction in Rats" (pdf). Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 22 (8): 870–872. doi:10.1248/bpb.22.870. PMID 10480329.
  10. ^ Matsuda, H; Wang, Q; Matsuhira, K; Nakamura, S; Yuan, D; Yoshikawa, M (2008). "Inhibitory effects of thunberginols A and B isolated from Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium on mRNA expression of cytokines and on activation of activator protein-1 in RBL-2H3 cells". Phytomedicine. 15 (3): 177–84. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2007.09.010. PMID 17950587.
  11. ^ Yoshikawa, M; Uchida, E; Chatani, N; Kobayashi, H; Naitoh, Y; Okuno, Y; Matsuda, H; Yamahara, J; Murakami, N (1992). "Thunberginols C, D, and E, new antiallergic and antimicrobial dihydroisocoumarins, and thunberginol G 3'-O-glucoside and (−)-hydrangenol 4'-O-glucoside, new dihydroisocoumarin glycosides, from Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium". Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 40 (12): 3352–4. doi:10.1248/cpb.40.3352. PMID 1363465.
  12. ^ Murakami, N; Mostaqul, HM; Tamura, S; Itagaki, S; Horii, T; Kobayashi, M (2001). "New anti-malarial flavonol glycoside from Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium" (PDF). Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 11 (18): 2445–7. doi:10.1016/s0960-894x(01)00467-x. PMID 11549443.
  13. ^ a b Zhang, Hailong; Matsuda, Hisashi; Yamashita, Chihiro; Nakamura, Seikou; Yoshikawa, Masayuki (2009). "Hydrangeic acid from the processed leaves of Hydrangea macrophylla var. thunbergii as a new type of anti-diabetic compound". European Journal of Pharmacology. 606 (1–3): 255–61. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.01.005. PMID 19374876.
  14. ^ Hayashi, K.; Abe, Y. (1953). "Studien über Anthocyane. XXIII. Papierchromatographische Übersicht der Anthocyane im Pflanzenreich". Miscellaneous Reports of the Research Institute for Natural Resources. 29: 1–8.
  15. ^ Yoshida K, Mori M, Kondo T (2009). "Blue flower color development by anthocyanins: from chemical structure to cell physiology". Natural Product Reports. 26 (7): 884–915. doi:10.1039/b800165k. PMID 19554240.
  16. ^ Gorham, John (1977). "Lunularic acid and related compounds in liverworts, algae and Hydrangea". Phytochemistry. 16 (2): 249–253. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)86795-3.
  17. ^ Yoshikawa, M; Matsuda, H; Shimoda, H; Shimada, H; Harada, E; Naitoh, Y; Miki, A; Yamahara, J; Murakami, N (1996). "Development of bioactive functions in Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium. V. On the antiallergic and antimicrobial principles of Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium. (2). Thunberginols C, D, and E, thunberginol G 3'-O-glucoside, (−)-hydrangenol 4'-o-glucoside, and (+)-hydrangenol 4'-O-glucoside". Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 44 (8): 1440–7. doi:10.1248/cpb.44.1440. PMID 8795265.
  18. ^ Nakagiri R, Hashizume E, Kayahashi S, Sakai Y, Kamiya T (December 2003). "Suppression by Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium of D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in vitro and in vivo". Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 67 (12): 2641–3. doi:10.1271/bbb.67.2641. PMID 14730144.
  19. ^ Chladil and Sheridan, Mark and Jennifer. "Fire retardant garden plants for the urban fringe and rural areas" (PDF). www.fire.tas.gov.au. Tasmanian Fire Research Fund.
  20. ^ Kamei K.; Matsuoka H.; Furuhata S.I.; Fujisaki R.I.; Kawakami T.; Mogi S.; Yoshihara H.; Aoki N.; Ishii A.; et al. (2000). "Anti-malarial activity of leaf-extract of Hydrangea macrophylla, a common Japanese plant". Acta Medica Okayama. 54 (5): 227–232. PMID 11061572.
  21. ^ Yarnell E, Abascal K (Oct 2004). "Botanical treatment and prevention of malaria: Part 2 - Selected botanicals". Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 10 (5): 277–84. doi:10.1089/act.2004.10.277.
  22. ^ Types of Hydrangeas at Plant Addicts. Accessed 7/3/2018
  23. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 51. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  24. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Altona'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  25. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ami Pasquier'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  26. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blaumeiser'". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  27. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Europa'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  28. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Générale Vicomtesse de Vibraye'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  29. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lanarth White'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  30. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Love You Kiss'". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  31. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Madame Emile Mouillère'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  32. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii Grandiflora'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  33. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii Lilacina'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  34. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii Perfecta'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  35. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Möwe'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  36. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nigra'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  37. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Rotschwantz'". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  38. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Tokyo Delight'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  39. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Veitchii'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  40. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Westfalen'". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  41. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Zorro'". Retrieved 7 March 2018.

External links[edit]