Paperbush Plant Growing Profile

The Proper Latin Name Is Edgeworthia chrysantha

If you want to add fragrance to your garden, try a paperbush plant.
Image by Rictor Norton & David Allen under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Edgeworthia chrysantha, or paper bush as many call it, originates from southwest China, Japan, and Nepal, where it is often used to make high-quality paper. Due to its durability, it was used for many years to make banknotes in Japan. It is also used to a variety of products from books to wallpaper to toys.   

Paper bush is also used in folk medicine remedies. The bark and roots are said to act as an anti-inflammatory and have analgesic properties as well. Sliced root and flower buds are used to treat eye diseases.

However, the flowers of the paper bush are what have given it wider appeal. Producing clusters of highly fragrant yellow flowers in late winter through early spring, it has become sought after for shade gardens in temperate climates.

Latin Name

Edgeworthia chrysantha is the botanical name for this bush. The genus Edgeworthia was named in honor of Michael Packenham Edgeworth, an Irish botanist who spent most of his life working in India.  The species name was derived from the Greek words chrusos and anthos, which mean golden and flower respectively.

Common Names

Common names for this species include Chinese paper bush, oriental paper bush, yellow Daphne, or simply paper bush. The Japanese refer to it as mitsumata bush, a reference to the interesting triple branching pattern seen in this species.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones

Recommended for USDA zones 8a to 10b, this species can be grown as far north as USDA zone 7 if planted in a sheltered location and given sufficient winter protection.

Size and Shape

Assuming a pleasing umbrella shape, the well-branched paper bush grows up to six feet in height and spreads as wide as it is tall.

Exposure

Paper bush does well in partial shade to full sun, but for optimal flowering, more sun is recommended. Because the flowers are susceptible to frost damage, a south or west facing wall is an ideal planting location.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit

Stems of the paper bush are a cinnamon colored red-brown and grow fine hairs near the tips. It is said that the stems are so pliable that they can be tied in a knot without breaking.

The leaves are oval and narrow in shape, growing from three to nearly six inches long. Growing in clusters at the branch tips these leaves are dark green to blue-green on the upper surfaces and gray-green on the underside. In mid-December the leaves drop without changing color, revealing large silvery-white flower buds.

The flower buds open to display clusters of fragrant tubular blossoms from February through early April. The flowers are pale to deep yellow and have a sweet fragrance that has been described as clove-like. Fruit is produced in the form of a dry drupe that is red-purple in color.

Design Tips

Paper bush is often used as a winter focal plant, due to the flowers that blossom beginning in February. They are popular for woodland gardens, border plantings or even mass plantings. They may also be planted in containers for patios and locations where the fragrance of the blossoms can be enjoyed.

Growing Tips

Paper bush thrives in moist, acidic soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Water regularly during summer and fall to ensure the soil remains consistently moist. Avoid moving the bush once it is planted, as it is touchy until well established. During the first winter, it is advisable to provide protection from the cold.

Although it can be grown from seed, germination can take as much as a year. Another option is to propagate by dividing the parent plant in mid to late winter.

Maintenance and Pruning

Paper bush requires little to no pruning. The bush will produce suckers, which should be divided out from the soil. If pruning is required to maintain the desired size and shape, it should be done after blooming is completed.

Pests and Diseases

This plant is disease and pest resistant, and relatively heat tolerant as long as it is watered regularly.