Herb latin name: Hydrangea macrophylla

Synonyms: Hydrangea maritima

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Medicinal use of Hydrangea macrophylla:

The leaves, roots and flowers are antimalarial, antitussive and diuretic. They are said to be a more potent antimalarial than quinine, due to the presence of an alkaloid.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Sunny places near the coast of E. Japan.

Edible parts of Hydrangea macrophylla:

The young leaves, when dried and rubbed between the hands, become very sweet and are used to make a sweet tea called "tea of heaven", it is used in Buddhist ceremonies. The leaves contain phellodulcin (its chemical formula is C16 H14 O), a very sweet substance that can be used as a sugar substitute. One small leaf is sufficient to sweeten a cup of tea. The older leaves can be dried, powdered and used as a flavouring on foods. The young leaves and shoots are also eaten cooked. Young leaves contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid, this reduces as the leaves grow older, often to zero levels.

Other uses of the herb:

A useful hedging plant because of its vigorous growth. The Hortensias or mop-head cultivars are recommended.

Propagation of Hydrangea macrophylla:

Seed - surface sow in a greenhouse in spring. Cover the pot with paper until the seed germinates. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8cm long, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring. Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame. Mound layering in spring. Takes 12 months. Leaf-bud cuttings of the current seasons growth in a frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sunny places near the coast of E. Japan.

Known hazards of Hydrangea macrophylla:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.