Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Ashy Hydrangea - Hydrangea cinerea   Small
Members of Hydrangeaceae:
Members of Hydrangea with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Hydrangeaceae
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DistributionRestricted to the southern half of the Mountains and the southwestern Piedmont, ranging north and east to Buncombe and Lincoln counties.

This is primarily a Midwestern species, with a center of distribution around western KY and western TN. It ranges east only to southwestern NC, and south to northern GA and southern AL; then west to eastern OK and north to IL and IN.
AbundanceRare to uncommon in its fairly small range in the state. This is the only one of the three Hydrangea species in the state that is scarce enough to be on the NC NHP Watch List.
HabitatThis species is limited to rocky and rather cool forested sites. It favors shaded bluffs, rocky ravines, moist roadbanks, and other such moist sites, apparently limited to mafic rocks (i.e., circumneutral soil).
PhenologyBlooms and fruits in May and June.
IdentificationThis is a species that was formerly considered as a subspecies or variety of Hydrangea arborescens, and is therefore quite similar in overall proportions, being a deciduous shrub growing to 5-6 feet tall. It has large, opposite leaves with rather long petioles and a widely ovate shape with a narrow tip. It can be separated from H. arborescens strictly by the leaf undersides. Ashy Hydrangea has leaves that are grayish or ashy-colored below and not medium green; the considerable hairs below do not completely obscure the green color, unlike on H. radiata, which has whitish to silvery leaf undersides.
Taxonomic CommentsRAB (1968) and some other references considered this taxon as a subspecies of H. arborescens, whereas some others listed it as a variety. In fact, as a subspecies it was named as H. arborescens ssp. discolor.

Other Common Name(s)Gray Hydrangea
State RankS2 [S2S3]
Global RankG5
State StatusW7 [W1]
US Status
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