Edgeworthia chrysantha Lindl.

This species is accepted, and its native range is S. China to N. Myanmar.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
Oriental paper bush is a beautiful, winter-flowering scented shrub, which has bark valued for making high-quality paper in Japan.

This is the commonest of the four species of Edgeworthia and the one most widely cultivated. The scented flowers are borne in tight nodding heads on leafless branches in late winter and early spring. The flowers are usually creamy yellow, but there are also deep yellow and reddish forms.

The stems are remarkably flexible and can be tied in a simple knot without apparent damage. The bark is papery, cinnamon-coloured and used for making high-quality paper - hence the English name, paper bush. The Japanese name, mitsumata, means 'triple-branching' (referring to the unusual branching pattern of this shrub).

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

This species is native to southern and eastern China and was probably introduced to Korea and Japan where it has been cultivated since the late 16th century.

Description

Overview:  Edgeworthia chrysantha is a deciduous shrub up to 1.5 m, with numerous, upright stems exhibiting trichotomous branching (branching in threes), which is unusual in angiosperms (flowering plants).

Flowers: Flowers appear in late winter or early spring in dense, nodding heads that may be pale yellow, deep yellow or reddish-orange. They are sweetly scented, tubular, 13-20 mm long, with silky hairs on the outside and four recurved lobes. There are 8 stamens, in two groups inside the tube, and the style is slender.

Fruits: Fruits are purplish and mostly covered by remains of the flower.

Leaves:  Leaves appear after the flowers and are narrowly oblanceolate (lance-shaped with a rounded apex and tapering base), 8-20 cm long, 2.5-5.5 cm wide, with soft silky hairs.

The history behind the name

Edgeworthia is named after Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812-1881), who was born in County Longford, Ireland and educated mainly by his half-sister Maria Edgeworth, famous for her novel Castle Rackrent published in 1800. She also wrote Dialogues on Botany for the Use of Young Persons (1819). Michael Edgeworth joined the Bengal Civil Service and collected plants in Aden (Yemen), India and Sri Lanka. He contributed accounts for several families to Joseph Hooker's Flora of British India . In addition to Edgeworthia , he is remembered by many other species including Primula edgeworthii Pax. Edgeworth's herbarium collections are held at the Kew and Oxford herbaria.

Uses

The bark of Edgeworthia chrysantha is used for making high-quality, hand-made paper, including ornamental Japanese wallpaper and calligraphy paper. The use of mitsumata in paper making dates back to the late 16th century. Historically, Japanese bank notes were made from mitsumata and renowned for being the finest quality notes in the world and the most difficult to forge! Mitsumata is still grown in Japan for paper making, but today most Japanese bank notes are made from Manila hemp ( Musa textilis - a relative of banana).

In China, the flowers, bark and roots are used in folk medicine. The bark and roots have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and the flower buds are used to treat eye diseases.

Edgeworthia chrysantha is widely cultivated in temperate climates as an ornamental shrub.

Cultivation

Edgeworthia chrysantha enjoys moist, well-drained soil in a sheltered, partially shaded position. It can also be grown to good effect against a west- or south-facing wall (as at the Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire) or in a cool greenhouse to produce a delightful fragrance when flowering. It grows best in acid soils, although it will tolerate near-neutral conditions.

This species at Kew

Edgeworthia chrysantha is growing in the borders behind Museum No. 1 at Kew and in the Winter Garden and Specimen Beds at Wakehurst.

Distribution
China
Ecology
Forests, shrubby slopes, dry sandy soil; from coastal areas to stream sides in mountain valleys.
Conservation
Not Evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

None known.

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental, high-quality paper, medicinal.

Native to:

China South-Central, China Southeast, Myanmar

Introduced into:

Georgia, Japan, Korea

English
Oriental paperbush

Edgeworthia chrysantha Lindl. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Maries, C. [s.n.], Jiangxi K000900160 Yes
Fortune, R. [159], China K000900159 Yes
Henry, A. [3976], China K000900158 Yes

First published in J. Hort. Soc. London 1: 148 (1846)

Accepted by

  • Iwatsuki, K., Boufford, D.E. & Ohba, H. (eds.) (1999). Flora of Japan IIc: 1-328. Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo.
  • Kress, W.J., DeFilipps, R.A., Farr, E. & Kyi, D.Y.Y. (2003). A Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs and Climbers of Myanmar. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 45: 1-590. Smithsonian Institution.
  • Wu, Z., Raven, P.H. & Hong, D. (eds.) (2007). Flora of China 13: 1-548. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).

Not accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (2001). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS E-F: 1-50919. [Cited as Edgeworthia tomentosa.]

Literature

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Kress, W.J., DeFilipps, R.A., Farr, E. & Kyi, D.Y.Y. (2003). A Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs and Climbers of Myanmar. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 45: 1-590. Smithsonian Institution.
  • Wu, Z., Raven, P.H. & Hong, D. (eds.) (2007). Flora of China 13: 1-548. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Species Profiles

    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0