Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’
This cultivated variety of Fothergilla is a hybrid of Fothergilla gardenii—dwarf witch fothergilla, and Fothergilla major—large fothergilla. It is not found in the wild. 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. This variety was discovered at the Mt. Airy Arboretum in Cincinnati, OH, by Michael Dirr.
Identification: This deciduous shrub is 4-6' (1.2-1.8 m) tall. It produces numerous white flowerheads resembling bottle-brushes. Each flower spike is 1-3" (2.5-7.6 cm) long and 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 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, 2-5" (5-12 cm) long, glossy, dark green, with prominent veins. They become brilliant red, orange, yellow, and purple in the fall. Fruits are inconspicuous green capsules.
Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’ in Paghat's Garden
Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’ on floridata.com
Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’ at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Fothergilla major at the University of Connecticut Plant Database
Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 5-8: