Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fothergilla gardenii - Dwarf fothergilla

This is one of several plantings that went along with the construction of the Environmental Center here at Pace - Pleasantville. In fact, this picture is of a shrub just outside the door to my building.

When I first saw it, I thought it might be some sort of alder, based on the leaf shape. I looked through all the books I had available to me, but didn't find anything convincing. So I asked our local naturalist and he said "Forthergilla". From there, I went to the internet - first stop, Wikipedia. The genus Forthergilla has the common name Witch Alder. According to the Wikipedia entry, there are only two or three species in the genus. The family is Hamamelidaceae, the witch-hazel family. So while alder is in the common name, this species isn't in the same family as the genus Alnus (Betulacea - the birches). It made me pretty happy that at least I wasn't the only person to think of this resemblance.

So why couldn't I find this plant in any of my books? Well, most all of my guides are northeast based. And my favorite website for identification, GoBotany, is also northeast based. According to information from the Missouri Botanical Garden entry for F. gardenii, this species is native to the southeast US. This makes me wonder if I should start expanding my collection of guides.