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Mike's Blog - Day 55

This is Fothergilla major, Mountain Witch Alder, in the woodland garden.

Noted for their amazing Autumn colours on a par with any Japanese maple, but the flowers are quite unusual too. Apparently scented, but it was very cold when I took the picture, so perhaps it needs some warmth to release its scent. A re-visit needed.

It’s in the same family as Witch hazel. I’m not sure why such plants would claim “Witch” as part of their name, perhaps it’s the resemblance of the flowers to witches besoms. Witch hazel is not a hazel, or even in the hazel family, and this Mountain Witch Alder is no relation to Alder, no wonder people get confused with plant names! It's native to the swamps and woodlands of the Appalachian mountain range in the SE United States where its conservation status is “vulnerable”.

Its named after John Fothergill (1712-1780), an English physician and plant collector, who was born at Carr End in Yorkshire. He went on to create his own botanic garden, West Ham Park in London, apparently accepting rare plants as payment for treatments and consultations he would give.