This unusual shrub is nestled in the eastern courtyard of the Glasshouses.
A tender member of the Hydrangeaceae family, Dichroa febrifuga (synonym D. versicolor) occurs from the Himalaya to Korea. It was first introduced to our gardens from Hong Kong by the botanist Robert Fortune in 1846, who named it Adamia versicolor. Commonly referred to as the blue evergreen hydrangea, or Chinese quinine, D. febrifuga grows to 2m and has glossy, toothed leaves. The flowers are held in terminal panicles and individual panicles may be both pink and blue on the same plant, and vibrant blue fruits are produced in autumn. In China this species is used widely for the treatment of fevers, hence the specific epithet febrifuga, with Latin febris meaning fever, and fuga meaning to expel. The generic name derives from the Greek dis meaning twice, and chroa meaning colour.