Herb: Mock Orange

Latin name: Philadelphus lewisii

Synonyms: Philadelphus californicus

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Medicinal use of Mock Orange:

The dried powdered leaves, or the powdered wood, has been mixed with pitch or oil and used as a rub on sores and swollen joints. A poultice of the bruised leaves has been used to treat infected breasts. A strained decoction of the branches, sometimes with the flowers, has been used as a soaking solution in the treatment of sore chests, eczema and bleeding haemorrhoids.

Description of the plant:


3.6 m
(12 feet)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Gullies, water courses, rocky cliffs, talus slopes and rocky hillsides of sagebrush deserts.

Other uses of Mock Orange:

The leaves and flowers are rich in saponins, when crushed and mixed with water they produce a lather that is an effective cleaner, used on the body, clothes etc. You can wash your hands by merely picking a couple of leaves or a bunch of blossom, wetting your hands and then rubbing the plant material vigorously as if it was a bar of soap. This soap is a very gentle cleaner that does not remove the body's natural oils, but does remove dirt. It is not very effective against oil. An infusion of the bark can also be used. The stems can be used in making fine coiled baskets. Wood - strong, very hard. Used for tool handles.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best if given 1 months cold stratification. Sow February in a light position in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for 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, 7 - 10cm long side-shoots, July/August in a shaded frame. Plant out in spring. High percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 15 - 25cm with a heel, December in a sheltered bed outdoors. Fair to good percentage. Layering in summer. Very easy.

Cultivation of Mock Orange:

Gullies, water courses, rocky cliffs, talus slopes and rocky hillsides of sagebrush deserts.

Known hazards of Philadelphus lewisii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.