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Hobblebush Flowering

5-5-17 hobblebush 065At this time of year moist, rich woods are brilliantly lit up with the white flowers of a scraggly shrub called Hobblebush, whose name is derived from the tendency of its sprawling branches to trip people walking through the woods.

Hobblebush’s inflorescences consist of clusters of blossoms that together can measure six to eight inches across. The smaller flowers in the center (still buds in this photo) are fertile, possessing both stamens and pistils, while the larger flowers in the outermost ring are sterile. The inner fertile flowers produce fruit if pollinated and fertilized. The larger outer flowers, being sterile, do not produce fruit — their sole function is to attract insects to pollinate the central mass of fertile flowers.

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10 responses

  1. Libby

    A friend, with a quirky sense of humor, hiked the Appalachian Trail and called this “Toilet Paper Bush” because of the usefulness of its broad leaves. :0)

    May 5, 2017 at 9:01 am

  2. Such perfect timing! Yesterday, as I was noticing these familiar springtime clusters of blossoms along the roadside, I was thinking that I had to look up the name of this bush (which I’ve looked up before – maybe it will stick, after reading your description…) It’s so beautiful. Thanks for this lovely photo!

    May 5, 2017 at 9:19 am

  3. Hi Mary,
    I was out yesterday up in the woods here in Huntington and saw many brilliant hobblebush blossoms. I featured a photo of one much like yours on my weather blog this morning (
    Cheers, John

    May 5, 2017 at 9:55 am

  4. Bill On The Hill...

    Its funny, as I have observed this plant most all my life & simply taken it for granted when walking in the woods. Great photograph & description…
    Bill Farr…

    May 5, 2017 at 10:06 am

  5. Alice Pratt

    So pretty…..Mary…I so love your blog…always either something to enjoy or learn. After 31 1/2 years living on our woodsy property, I still have some plants names to learn….one in particular…I think I’ll bring a sprig to our local nursery.

    May 5, 2017 at 3:08 pm

  6. Ellizabeth

    I love to cut stems of hobblebush in January and bring them inside to force blooming. The fatter buds are the flower buds. If you crush the base of the cut stems before putting them in a vase with water, they bloom faster. Sometimes takes 2 – 3 weeks. A bit of spring in mid-winter.

    May 5, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    • Annette Goyne

      I love this idea, Elizabeth! Thank you! I noticed the first blossoms today while driving through Eden! They’re just in time to greet the returning black-throated blue warblers which like to nest in this bush.

      May 5, 2017 at 11:28 pm

  7. Hobblebush get’s it’s name from the tripping hazard that is created as the drooping branches root where they touch the ground. I only find this plant on acidic soil, it’s nice seeing it bloom in the Green Mountains as you drive up and over from the Champlain Valley. Berries are a beautiful, lovely red and yellow.

    May 6, 2017 at 8:04 am

  8. Rachael Cohen

    Mary, do you know why the infertile flowers open so much earlier than the inner, fertile ones? Often the “fake” flowers are gone by when the “real” ones blossom. This seems to defeat the purpose of the attractive, large blossoms.

    May 14, 2017 at 9:40 am

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