Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Climbing Hydrangea - Hydrangea barbara   (L.) B. Schulz
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Section 6 » Family Hydrangeaceae
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Author(L.) B. Schulz
DistributionA somewhat bimodal distribution, as it occurs mainly in the Coastal Plain and the southern edge of the mountains and Piedmont. Ranges from the coast westward to the central Coastal Plain counties, though might be absent from the Sandhills. Also present sparingly in the southern Piedmont and southern mountains, essentially only in counties bordering SC and GA.

This is obviously a Southern species, ranging north only to southeastern VA and western TN, south to central FL and extreme eastern TX.
AbundanceThis species is infrequent to fairly common in the Coastal Plain part of the range, likely most numerous (fairly common to common) in the Roanoke River floodplain. Very rare to rare within a few miles of SC and GA farther westward.
HabitatThis is a species of wetland habitats, but favoring rich and moist soil as opposed to swampy areas. It is most common in bottomlands, less so in drier portions of mainly brownwater swamps. It may grow in adjacent rich soils of mesic forests or cove forests.
PhenologyBlooms in May and June, and fruits from July to October.
IdentificationThis is a somewhat unique species in our area, as it is one of the few high-climbing woody vines (into the tops of trees) with aerial adventitious roots, as is seen on Poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) vines. The leaves are very thick, glossy dark green and are tardily deciduous (though looking completely evergreen). They are also opposite, ovate in shape, with somewhat serrate to cuneate leaves (mostly on the outer half), growing to about 3” long. The species might cause confusion if only small plants are seen that have not yet started to climb trees. However, the thick, shiny, opposite leaves growing out of a vine crawling up a tree should clearly indicate this species. The white flowers are in small rounded clusters; they are followed by intricately “carved” capsules with distinctive vertical ridges.
Taxonomic CommentsUntil recently, it was always named as Decumaria barbara. However, Weakley (2018) has placed it into the genus with the typical hydrangeas -- as Hydrangea barbara.

Other Common Name(s)Decumaria, Woodvamp
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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