Fothergilla gardenii L.
Fothergilla parvifolia Kearney
Fothergilla is for John Fothergill, a physician and gardener. Gardenii doesn’t mean “looks good in a garden”—it recognizes Dr. Alexander Garden, a contemporary of Fothergill’s for whom the gardenia is also named. Dwarf fothergilla is native to the American southeast.
Identification: This deciduous shrub is 18-36" (45-91 cm) tall and 24-48" (60-121 cm) wide, with crookedly branching stems. It produces numerous white flowerheads that look like bottlebrushes. Each flowerhead is 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) long and ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) in diameter. The brushlike filaments are white flower stamens and pale yellow anthers; there are no petals. The flowers smell a bit like honey. Leaves are alternate, 1-3" (2.5-7.6 cm) long, glossy, dark green or gray-green to blue-green, with prominent veins and shallow lobes or teeth. They become brilliant red, orange, yellow, and pink in the fall. Fruits are inconspicuous green capsules that turn olive brown.
Fothergilla major 'Mt. Airy' in Paghat's Garden (this is about a cultivated variety of Fothergilla, but it includes an interesting story about the people behind the plants)
Fothergilla gardenii at the Ohio State University PLANTFacts database
Fothergilla gardenii on www.carolinanature.com
Fothergilla gardenii at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Fothergilla gardenii at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Fothergilla gardenii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.