Fothergilla major

Common Names:
large witchhazel, mountain witch alder, mountain witchhazel
(Sims) Lodd.
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Irina Kadis
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

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


Conservation, Ecology & Research