During August of 1907, in western part of Hubei province in China, Ernest Henry Wilson collected a Hydrangea that turned out to be new to science. The plant was collected during his third expedtion, but the first sponsored by Charles S. Sargent the director of the Arnold Arboretum. The expedtion lasted for three years, beginning in 1907 with Wilson exploring western Hubei and Sichuan before returning to Boston in 1909.

Wilson’s collection  number 772  was described as the new species, Hydrangea sargentiana, in Plantae Wilsonae, a three part series to enummerate and describe his collectionmade during this expedition.

As well as the preserved specimen there was an associated seed collection that was distributed by Arnold Arboretum. Some of those seed were sent to Sir John Stirling Maxwell who then, in turn, forwarded some on to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Despite coming from a remote part of China, via the Arnold Arboetum in Boston, then through FRS Balfour at Dawyck who was dealing with UK distribution of the Arnold seed, to Stirling-Maxwell before RBGE recieved the seed on the 5th June 1908, only 10months after they were collected.

One of the plants grown from that seed collection is still alive and well in the living collection 108 year later and has been used as cutting material so we now have several plants in the Edinburgh and Benmore gardens.

Hydrangea sargentiana is not your average garden lacecap in fact as heather-reenges go, that’s the great scots word for them my gran used, it really is something special.

Hydrangea sargentiana 19081032*A

Hydrangea sargentiana 19081032*A

Hydrangea sargentiana inflorescence

Hydrangea sargentiana bracts