|large witchhazel, mountain witch alder, mountain witchhazel|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
The conservation of Fothergilla major is fully sponsored.
Irina Kadis contributed to this Plant Profile.
Fothergilla is a genus native to the southeastern United States. F. major, the large fothergilla, is a densely branched colonial shrub. Its usual height is 6 ft, although it may grow in the wild to 10 and even nearly 20 ft (Small 1933, Weaver 1971). Fothergilla gardenii, the small fothergilla, is only about 3 ft tall and sparsely branched (Dirr 1998) The leaves of both fothergilla species look generally similar to leaves of the common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), however, less toothed (in F. major, only in their upper two-thirds; in F. gardenii, only above the middle, if at all, and are considerably smaller and narrower) (Radford et al. 1968). There exist two forms in F. major: the "typical" one with leaves white-glaucous beneath (with stellate hairs) and the one that had been once recognized as "F. monticola" with leaves green beneath (Flint 1984). Both are found growing together in any considerably large population.
Fothergillas are monoecious (male and female flowers appear on the same plant) (Foote and Jones 1994). Flowers are arranged in dense terminal spikes. They are apetalous, very fragrant, featuring conspicuous yellow stamens with long filaments. Styles are also long, persistent at fruit. Fruits are beaked dehiscent capsules, each containing two shiny, black seeds.
Fothergilla is named after Dr. John Fothergill, an English philanthropist of the 18th century, who established a large garden with greenhouses in Upton, Essex, cultivated one of the most important early collections of American plants, and financed W. Bartram's travels across the North American Continent.
Distribution & Occurrence
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
F. major occurs in mesic-dry to dry habitats of the uplands: rich mountain woods and balds with tulip tree, Carolina silverbell, cucumbertree magnolia, common witchhazel, azalea, and others; rocky ravine banks of streams with rapid water flow. Although it can be occasionally found in mature mesic forests, its most characteristic habitats are disturbed areas on dry ridges of southeastern highlands (Hightshoe 1988, Bir 1992, Foote and Jones 1994).
The plant is very shade tolerant. It needs well-drained, moist, moderate to slightly acid, rich loams. Fothergilla cannot tolerate alkaline soil.
|Remaining population sizes and sites are largely unknown.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Road construction, right-of-way maintenance
Clearcutting of adjacent woods and thinning of trees in its immediate proximity affects the speci
F. major is generally remarkable for its individual variability. Differences in shape, size, autumn coloration, and flowering profusion have been noticed between individual clones. Due to that, F. major is a perfect candidate for a selection program and propagation (Fordham 1971).
Propagation from seed: collect seed right on time or they can be dispersed and lost. Double dormancy interferes with germination.
Propagation from cuttings: don't disturb immediately after rooting, let cuttings break buds the next following spring in the same container before potting them up. In case cuttings are disturbed early, they tend to break bud very slowly or not at all.
Hightshoe, G.L. 1988. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.