Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb.) Ser.

Fully hardy, rounded, deciduous shrub with broadly ovate, coarsely toothed leaves, to 20cm long, and almost spherical corymbs, to 20cm across, of large blue or pink, sterile flowers.  To 2m or more under suitable conditions.  Decorative garden Hydrangeas are mainly varieties of the Japanese H. macrophylla, pink to blue, all sterile.  H macrophylla cultivars are divided into two groups, Hortensias and Lacecaps.  [RHSE, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘It appears to be a point not yet fully determined, whether the present plant exhibits the appearances belonging to it in a state of nature, or those which are in a certain degree the effect of accident, or of art; in its frutification it certainly is not so completely barren as the Guilder Rose, Viburnum Opulus, cultivated in our gardens, since it has most of its parts perfect; yet as none of the authors who have seen it in China or Japan (where it is said to be much cultivated but indigenous) describe its fruit, we are inclined on that account, to regard it, in a certain degree, as monstrous.’  [BM t.438/1799].

According to Hilliers’ introduced to Britain in 1790 by Sir Joseph Banks.  Interestingly Johnson’s Dictionary gives a date of introduction of Hydrangea hortensis as 1740, from China.  Smith tab.12/1790-93.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.565/1843].


Published Feb 14, 2010 - 11:51 AM | Last updated Feb 14, 2010 - 12:01 PM

Figured are ovate, toothed leaves and spherical corymb of single pink flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.438, 1799.

Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb.) Ser. | BM t.438/1799 | BHL

Family Hydrangeaceae
Region of origin


  • Hydrangea hortensia Sieb.
  • Hydrangea hortensis Sm.
  • Viburnum tomentosum Thunb.
Common Name

Common hydrangea

Name in the Camden Park Record

Hydrangea hortensis 

Confidence level high