Scientific Name: Hydrangea (genus)
- Order: Cornales
- Family: Hydrangeaceae
- Genus: Hydrangea
Eye-catching pastel blooms flourish on tall green shrubs outside both the elementary and secondary girls schools in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Varying in shape, size, and color, the large flowers are from the genus Hydrangea. Also called “hortensia,” this large genus of flowering plants can range from small shrubs to sky-high vines.
There are over 70 species of hydrangeas and hundreds of cultivars, and most species are native to Asia. There are five main types: bigleaf, oakleaf, smooth, panicle, and climbing. In the United States, the bigleaf hydrangea is the most common type, and it includes three kinds– the mophead, lacecap, and mountain hydrangeas. The mophead has a pom-pom-like flowerhead, while the other two have large flowers around the flowerhead and smaller buds in the center.
Hydrangeas are loved for many reasons, one being the great variety of colors they can come in. In fact, the mophead and lacecap hydrangea flowers can change colors, from pink to purple to blue. This is because acidic soil results in blue flowers, while soils with a higher pH produce pink or reddish colored flowers. The beautiful multi-colored look can be seen in the second photo below.
In Japan, a sweet tea is made from mountain hydrangea leaves and is poured over a Buddha statue in celebration of the Buddha’s birthday. In Alabama, the oakleaf hydrangea was declared the state wildflower.