Edgeworthia chysantha is sometimes called paperbush, referring to the leaves which have been used in fine papermaking. In Japan, at one time, it was used to make banknotes. (Note: the paper making name may refer to a disputedly seperate species, E. papyrifera.) It is the same family, Thymelaeaceae, as Daphne, and is also known as golden daphne for the sweet smell and time of bloom. Here in the Fairegarden, both Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ and Edworthia chrysantha bloom simultaneously, a duet to fill the West side of the property with an appetizing blend of the sweetest perfumes.
Edgeworthia chrysantha was first planted in this garden as a replacement for a forest pansy redbud that was severed in half by a falling loblolly pine branch. Click here to read this very early in our blogging career story.
This was a small tree/shrub that had been previously unknown to us until it was spotted in a mail order catalog with an accompanying description of a fragrance that could not be ignored, blooming n the dead of winter. The stated growing Zones 7-10 put us right on the Northern edge of hardiness, but the size and conditions required could be met here, sort of, so Edgeworthia chrysantha was ordered on an impulse, as is our modus operandi.
The new tree was duly planted upon its arrival at the lower end of the bed where the colony of tall pine trees reside, down by the street where there is the most moisture that this steeply sloping piece of earth has to offer. When springtime returned to spur life back into the garden, there were no leaves emerging on the little stick of purported to be Edgeworthia, nothing at all, well into the warmer season. The company was contacted for a replacement. A second bare stick was sent which was also duly planted upon arrival, this time at the upper end of the pine tree bed, rather than at the lower end where the damaged forest pansy redbud and the first leafless stick were left in place to share their woes and sorrows.
Times marches on. By summer, leaves had emerged on both the new Edgeworthia chrysantha and the formerly presumed dead one. Now there were two sticks with some leaves, not close together as would be the best planting practice, but leagues apart, along with a recovering forest pansy redbud. The year was 2008.
Skipping merrily to the fall of 2009, fur covered flower buds were observed and noted on both of the Edgeworthia chrysantha sticks. There were incredible and otherworldly looking blooms in late winter during the early months of 2010.
Truly a head snapping perfume that causes folks to “follow their noses…to the knock you sideways scent” is emitted by these yellow downward facing tubular bells. Bees are flummoxed by the somewhat hidden entrance to the realm of goodness within. I have watched them buzz around the tops of the whitish tubes, looking for the secret, magic doorway to Heaven. Some will fly off to the early spring bulbs, hellebores and other flowering shrubs with bee offerings at this time of year, but those persistant searchers will be well rewarded when they fly below the silvery umbrellas of bliss.
Blooms January, February and March in Southeast Tennessee Zone 7a
Originates from the Szechaun province of China
Deciduous with yellow fall color
5-6 feet tall by the same width
Suckering will allow for a fuller look over time, needs no pruning
Dislikes root disturbance
Plant close to paths or walkways to best enjoy the scent
Deer resistant, (thanks, Graceful Gardener!)
The genus name is in honor of Michael Edgeworth (1812-1881) a plant collector for the East India Company.
Added: The Forest Pansy redbud is still hanging in there. The large and secondary wounds have healed nicely. I did clean around the torn bark edges with a sharp knife at the time to help it recover. It is living and blooms yearly, though it is only half of what it could have been.