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Oakleaf Hydrangea - Hydrangea quercifolia


Family: Hydrangeaceae - Hydrangea family Genus Common Name: Hydrangea Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Shrub
Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea. A native species in the United States, Oakleaf Hydrangea is found in the wild only in the eight southeastern states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, as well as the District of Columbia. You're likely to see it in other states, however, because it started gaining popularity as a garden plant in the late 20th century. Several showy cultivars are available. The natural, native plant, which has more of the large white florets than the other native wild hydrangeas, is quite attractive as a yard shrub. I've noticed quite a number of them growing in yards on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and Georgia.

It is a shrub that can grow quite large, as tall as 8' or 10' (some reports of 25'), and its many branches growing from the base can spread to cover a wider area than it is tall.

Found in:
AL, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN

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Hydrangea quercifolia

Distribution of Hydrangea quercifolia in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 28 Apr 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN Date: 2010-August-28Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D60
By late summer the large sterile florets have changed from white to an attractive light brown.
Hydrangea quercifolia

Site: Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN Date: 2011-May-22Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The inflorescence of Oakleaf Hydrangea has many large sterile white blossoms. The other native wild hydrangeas have many fewer of the large white blossoms on each cluster.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hydrangea quercifolia

Site: Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN Date: 2011-May-22Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Individual floret; the large ones like this are sterile.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hydrangea quercifolia

Site: Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN Date: 2010-November-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The fertile small inner florets form dark brown seeds by late fall/early winter.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hydrangea quercifolia

Site: Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN Date: 2010-August-28Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The common name “Oakleaf” comes from the deeply lobed shape of the large leaves. The leaf will have 3 to 7 lobes. They will turn attractive colors in the fall.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hydrangea quercifolia

Site: Reflection Riding, Hamilton County, TN Date: 2011-May-22Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hydrangea quercifolia

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2011-December-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Fall foliage photo of an Oakleaf Hydrangea I have planted in my side yard. (This photo is not of a wild plant.)
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hydrangea quercifolia

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer