Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

            Plant of the Month, February 2013
Dichroa febrifuga - by Anne McCaughan
Dichroa febrifuga is from China and southeast Asia, and, in its native habitat, flowers between June and October. With me, it flowers between November and February. This photo was taken on Christmas day.
 It is supposed to have beautiful blue berries, but not, so far, for me.
When I was given it, I was told it was a hydrangea, to which family it belongs, but in a different genus, dichroa. It is commonly known as blue evergreen hydrangea. It was 3 years before it flowered.


It is not supposed to be hardy, but I have had it 10 years now. It survived the bad winters, but not unscathed, being reduced to a single stem after the winter of 2010.
Dichroa is one of the 50 essential herbal plants in traditional Chinese medicine, being used as a febrifuge (to chase off fevers), hence its name, and also to treat malaria. It was used as a substitute for quinine during the second world war, and is also known as 'Chinese quinine'. It is an ancient herbal remedy, but a drug derived from it, halofuginone, is currently under investigation and showing promise in treating autoimmune disease - and maybe having an anti-ageing potential !  (New Scientist February 2012 2852:18)