|Fothergilla major||Dwarf Alder; Fothergilla|
Origin: USA, in the Alleghanny Mountains from Virginia to S Carolina
This genus is from the same family as the witch hazel and has similar flowers and leaves, and like it, colours up beautifully in the autumn.
A deciduous shrub which can reach up to 3 m tall; its young leaves are tinged with bronze and are heavily textured, with a few teeth at the edge, and when fully open are roundish and 5-10 cm long and glossy green.
The sweet-smelling flowers appear before the leaves. They resemble bottle-brushes and are borne at the ends of short side twigs; there are no petals, only bunches of stamens which have off-white stalks and yellow anthers. Young branches are covered with starry-branched hairs; these are also present on the underside of the leaves, especially on the veins and mid-ribs.
Introduced in ?1765; in cultivation in 1780, but lost for many years thereafter; re-introduced in 1902 from the Arnold Arboretum.
The name commemorates Dr John Fothergill (1712-80), a friend of Benjamin Franklin and John Bartram; he championed the cause of the American colonists, and grew one of the most extensive collections of American plants in England, in his garden at Stratford-le-Bow in Essex.