Edgeworthia chrysantha

One of the greatest joys of being a plant enthusiast, I think, is stumbling upon and having the chance to learn a new plant, especially one as unique and unusual as this month’s Plant of the Month. Edgeworthia chrysantha, known commonly as the paperbush or simply as Edgeworthia, is a largely unknown shrub, related to daphne. In my year with the Scott Arboretum, I’ve enjoyed observing how this deciduous shrub progresses through the seasons.

When I first saw Edgeworthia in the Isabelle Cosby Courtyard this past summer, it was covered with narrow oblanceolate leaves, forming a neat, round form, characteristic of edgeworthia. Towards the end of the summer, flower buds began forming at the branch tips of this specimen; these were the buds that were to serve as this spring’s flowers, the ones that are beautifully in bloom now. Moving into the fall-once the leaves of E. chrysantha fell-the large white flower buds provided ornamental value that lasted through the winter. And just last month, the edgeworthia buds began to open, revealing bright yellow, tubular flowers with a sweet fragrance. This is definitely a unique sight, one worth seeking out, and one that is on display now at the Scott Arboretum!

Edgeworthia chrysantha in Cosby Courtyard. photo credit: R. Maurer

The Edgeworthia chrysantha in the Cosby Courtyard is arguably the best specimen on campus, illustrating a nearly perfect form. However, another example of a mature edgeworthia plant can be found in the Terry Shane Teaching garden and two very small specimens can be found in the Harry Wood Garden and south of Martin Hall. To develop the best possible form, E. chrysantha should be grown in full sun. Our curator, Andrew Bunting, also suggests planting edgeworthia close to entryways or pathways, so that its spring fragrance can be best appreciated!

Come out to visit the Scott Arboretum this month, to observe this beautiful unusual plant as well as others!

Categorized as Plant of the Month

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  1. Miriam,
    When is the best time to prune an edgeworthia if you want to keep it small?

  2. Barbara,
    Thanks for your question! Edgeworthia does not really like being pruned, so I wouldn’t make a regular habit of it. But, if you do decide to prune yours, do so after the plant has finished flowering.

  3. Is suckering a regular habit of Edgeworthii and is it a yearly pruning issue?

  4. Philip,
    Yes, Edgeworthia does sucker and that is normal. However, yearly pruning is not an issue for this plant and pruning is best avoided.

  5. Miriam,

    Do you know if they cover the Edgeworthia for the winter?
    I live in CT (zone 6 but warming). I covered mine last year and most of the blossoms dried and fell off. Any suggestions? Thanks. Karen

  6. I would think that Edgeworthia is not flower hardy in zone 6. Here in Swarthmore, USDA Zone 7, we sometimes will get flower kill during the colder winters.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator

  7. Is Swarthmore really zone 7? I live in Wynnewood, PA and I thought that was zone 6b, but it is only a few miles away from Swarthmore. I planted a Edgeworthia last spring based on the Scott Arboretum’s successes with these plants. Anything special I should do to help it survive?

  8. According to the lasest USDA hardiness map Swarthmore is Zone 7. I have noticed slight hardiness differences between Swarthmore and Wayne and Chestnut Hill, etc. Therefore, if you can give your Edgeworthia a little winter protection that will ensure that the buds survive the winter since they are set the previous fall before spring flowering.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator

  9. I am testing Edgeworthia chrysantha in San Francisco, California. Year three, 2010, and it is doing extraordinarily well despite our cool, wet winters.

  10. 3/23/2010
    I bought our Edgeworthia at the Swathmore plants sale last Fall and planted it in Chalfont, PA. 6B, 20 miles north of Swathmore. We are pleased to anounce the opening of all 15 buds, such as they are, despite temps in the teens this winter. We planted the new addition on the south side of our house and protected all sides but the South with burlap. This specimen has a single trunk measuring about 10″ above the ground with four lateral primary branches. I would like to improve it’s shape. Will the suckers if they develop, produce flowers eventually? FYI, I did see an Edgeworthia at the Baywoods golf club in DE at the first tee. I though it too needed some serious shaping help, or maybe it didn’t…

  11. We have a beautiful edgeworthia in our back yard next to our pond. It’s a woodland setting, getting both shade and sun. I’m glad I never pruned it, especially after reading some of the advice. :) We love it, the scent is great and the plant does well here in Atlanta, GA.

  12. I have two edgeworthia’s on the estate i run i planted them in late autumn and they where snowed on very quickly and the 3 x 3 branches off from one another have gone yellow and soft inside but it is like it has only effected the last years growth, should i cut them back to a healthy point now? or wait until late summer? i am 19 and very new to horticulture and have been thrown in the deep end!! trying my best so swimm!! but the edgeworthia’s are right on my clients pattio so i want to get them sorted a,s,a,p!! thankyou for any advise!
    Aaron Scott

  13. My edgeworthia was planted last spring. I’m in Durham, NC. It is May and there are still no leaves. There are leaves growing on the very tip of bare branches. There are two suckers coming up and they are full of leaves. What should I do?

  14. Is edgeworthia deer resistant?

  15. wondering if my edgeworthia stems and leave are dying -is it ok to break off the dead leaves and stems-it’s summer here,portland,ore(zone 8?)do I need to put mulch down before the winter .2 plants on a slope with alot of drainage.any suggestion?
    thanks

  16. Is your plant sprouting at the base? If so, prune off any dead leaves or stems.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator

  17. I have seen this shrub in Atlanta and St. Louis, but cannot find it for sale. Does anybody know a reliable source for a fairly large plant? I’m in Little Rock and willing to pay for a larger plant to be shipped (or even picked up while I’m traveling).
    Thanks!
    John

  18. I first saw this plant 20 years ago at the Atlanta Botanical Garden but couldn’t find one anywhere. Two years later, I paid $35 at the Atlanta Garden Show for a twig with two tips. Two years later, it flourished. That first variety was papyfera with smaller leaves than chrysantha, and it didn’t survive a move or overwinter for my northern mom. Since then, chrysantha has proven hardier and I have several, one which does require pruning because of placement. It has always responded well to pruning for me. It’s easy to make more too. Let a ground shoot or two grow, push the stem under the soil, add a brick on top and wait a year or two for nice roots to develop. My mom in West Chester and sis in Germantown both have beautiful specimens they’ve grown for years purchased from Picadilly Nursery in Georgia.

  19. I have been unable to find the edgeworthia plant to purchase it in my area (eastern Tennessee). I would love to find a source for it’s purchase!

  20. We recently bought one at B.B. Barnes Nursery in Arden, NC (just outside Asheville). We aim to plant it in upper east TN.

  21. To all,

    For those of you in the south you might want to try either Garden Hood in Atlanta or McMahan’s Nursery in Clermont, GA as a source. I was just in Atlanta and it was in full flower. It is still in bud in Swarthmore, PA.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator
    Scott Arboretum

  22. Hi Everyone,
    I’m looking for nice size Edgeworthia chrysantha to plant at a client’s home in Delaware and can’t find it anywhere. I’m a landscape designer located in costal Delaware but can travel to buy it or order it from a reputable source. Thank you so much for your help.

  23. The past several years we have sourced our Edgeworthia from Pepper’s Greenhouse in Milton, DE. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peppers-Greenhouse/437832180709

  24. I’ve got an edgeworthia I planted in ’04 or ’05–and it has grown into a lovely specimen. Noticed the leaves looked sad today–and the trunk at the base is suspiciously squishy. I can’t seem to find much info on what disease this could be…I suspect it’s whatever causes Sudden Daphne Death.

    I won’t pull it out until it’s dead…but will it be safe to plant another edgeworthia there if the worst happens? Or, is it like daphne, never plant in the same place twice?

  25. Hi Melanie,
    You are correct; Edgeworthia is a relative of Daphne. With that said, there isn’t much information regarding the on-going culture and care of Edgeworthia. The plant is still relatively new to cultivation in North American gardens. I agree with your assessment and course of action to leave your plant alone until you are certain it is dead. We have several beautiful plants around the arboretum, including two that are similar in age to yours. One close to the arboretum offices developed what looked like black spot and was infested with spider mites. The plant was losing it rounded shape and beginning to splay open in the middle. I decided to do a hard rejuvenation pruning in early summer. The stems, despite a decade of growth, remain “soft” and never develop supporting bark that is typical of most woody plants. I have seen images of the plant grown in fields as a cutback shrub in Japan where the stems are harvested every few years to make high-quality paper. The plant I cut has responded well to the pruning and sent out a flush of new growth with clean leaves.
    In short, I’d continue to monitor the plant. Consider pruning as needed. I haven’t come across any information stating that you shouldn’t replant in the same location. Best of luck to you.

  26. how to propagate edgeworthia seeds..

  27. I planted 2 Edgeworthia in my Michigan yard (Zone 6b) 9 years ago. I lost one at 3 years but the other is flourishing. I know I’m pushing it, but I do manage to have blooms most springs. I don’t do much other than cutting out the suckers and any odd branch that is broken. It is a lovely sight (and smell) in late March to early April when it blooms. Through the summer, the long ‘basset-hound’ shaped leaves add textural interest.

  28. Hi, I wonder if anybody can give me some advice about propagating my Edgeworthia chrysantha here in Australia? I have had no success over many years with cuttings, air and ground layering and nothing has taken. I’ve tried in Spring, Summer and now in the Autumn, both in my hot house and out in the open. I normally have a pretty good success rate with my other cuttings but the Edgeworthia chrysantha has got me beat. I’ve also tried the seeds and they too have failed to germinate. I’ve also noticed that the seeds are hollow except for a tiny brown flake held within a hard black outer shell. Is this the ‘real’ seed and the outer layer just protection? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

  29. I have a young Edgeworthia in my Nassau County, Long Island zone seven garden, The plant was in bud this Fall when planted but due to the extreme winter we had the buds did not open and it appears that there has been winter damage.. if I prune off the three short branches at the ends of the main branches and the plant is still alive, will the plant be deformed? Should I wait and see what happens or perhaps remove all three main branches and leave just the trunk? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

  30. Sallie,

    I would wait until the Edgeworthia leafs out and then prune the dead back to the buds that are alive. If your Edgeworthia is not in bloom yet, then it is likely that your flower buds froze during the winter.

    Andrew

  31. Hi, I was wondering if anybody has taken cuttings of an Edgeworthia in Autumn and had some success.

    Its late Autumn here in Australia right now (equivalent to November in the northern hemisphere and you guys call it ‘the fall’ for some reason) and I’ve noticed that my plant has new shoots all over it and new flower buds starting to appear.

    If the plant is in an energy boost now would it be a good time to take some cuttings even though its the wrong time of the year.

    Has anybody some hints or advice on how I should go about it? I’m desperate to get some cuttings.

    Thanks

  32. Hi, I live just a couple miles away from Swarthmore, in Rose Valley, PA. Like Sallie’s (above, comment from April), my Edgeworthia’s buds did not open likely due to multiple freezes this past winter. I’ve been waiting through April and May for it to leaf out, but alas, the only signs of life on it are shoots pushing out from the ground around the trunk. Is there any hope left for the original? Anything specific I should (or should not) do to keep these shoots alive? Thanks for any suggestions/ideas you can offer.

  33. Stephanie,

    Many Edgeworthia in this area had their stems killed or severely compromised over the winter. I would suggest cutting your stems back to the new foliage emerging from the ground.

    Andrew Bunting, Curator

  34. Hi, I left a post back in May asking if anybody had some tips on taking Edgeworthia Chrysantha cuttings. The cuttings I took at the time have now all died as has been my luck for the past five years.
    However I have kept trying various ways to propagate my cuttings and I might have hit upon something that has worked. Here in Australia there is a product to prolong cut flowers. I wont mention its name because I don’t want to appear to be flogging a product but I’m happy to share it if people are interested.
    This time I suspended my cuttings in a solution of rainwater and a few drops of the formula and now some six weeks later, some tiny roots have started to appear. Most of the leaves have died and dropped off but the tops are still green and have started to generate new leaves. The roots have appeared from all various parts of the submerged bark and not from the exposed Cambian layer and not at all as I was expecting.
    The trick will now be when to transfer them to soil. Timing could be critical. I’ll keep you posted.

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