One of our 3 native hydrangeas. Hydrangea arborescens, commonly known as smooth hydrangea or wild hydrangea, is a loosely and widely branched deciduous shrub that typically grows to 3-6’ (less frequently to 10’) tall. It is native to moist or rocky wooded slopes, ravines, streambanks and bluff bases from New York to Florida west to Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Gray-brown stems are clad with opposite, broad egg-shaped to rounded, sharply toothed, dark green leaves (2-6” long) with pale green undersides. Leaves turn yellow in fall. Tiny white fertile flowers bloom in May-July (and longer) in flattened clusters (corymbs to 2-6”across). Continuing flowering may occur throughout summer to September. A few large sterile flowers usually appear at the cluster margins. Flowers give way to dehiscent seed capsules which ripen in October-November.
The plants favor moist streambanks, rich woods and calcareous ledges.