As a plant geek, I love finding plants that fit into certain obscure categories and incorporating them in my landscape. Plants that bloom in winter, for instance, or plants with flowers that you can smell before you can see, or plants that have a unique backstory are just a few classifications that come to mind. At least one plant fits into all three of those categories - Edgeworthia chrysantha.
won’t have to lean in close to notice. The scent is very pleasant and similar to that of gardenia. Flowers last quite a while, perhaps into early April, depending on the weather.
Ever wonder how plants are named? In the case of Edgeworthia, it was named by an Irish botanist, Michael Edgeworth, and his half-sister, Maria. The species chrysantha refers to the golden yellow flowers typically associated with the plant. As with many plants, there are also multiple common names floating around, including paperbush, paper plant, rice paper plant, and oriental paper bush. Many of the common names are derived from the fact that some Asian cultures peel Edgeworthia’s bark to use as paper. There aren’t many cultivars on the market, though ‘Snow Cream’ is reported to have larger flowers and leaves than the species, and ‘Red Dragon’ has orange-red blooms that unfortunately are not fragrant.
Photos and information found at NC extension Gardener Plant Toolbox:
Matthew Stevens is the County Extension Director and horticulture agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Pitt County Center. If you have any questions about this article or other aspects of your home gardening, please contact the Pitt County Master Gardener Infoline at 252-902-1705.