Called Easter Rose By Some…

Kerria japonica (Japanese kerria; one of those common names that really seems unnecessary, no?) is a great spring-blooming shrub that could easily replace most plantings of Forsythia. Why would one do that? Kerria japonica delivers reliably where Forsythia may lose flower buds to harsh cold (of course, that was hardly a concern this past winter).

The thin green stems of kerria in the dormant season.

What’s more, Japanese kerria is much more attractive through winter. In a mature clump, numerous pale green stems, which average about five feet in height, arch gently out to make a rounded mass of equal width (it gently  spreads by root suckers). Light annual pruning can be done to remove the occasional dead stems, or one can shear all of them to the ground immediately after the dazzling spring show of yellow blooms.

The extra large single blooms of Kerria japonica 'Golden Guinea'
The airy mass of mature Kerria japonica, in bloom now!

Individual blossoms are rose-like (and Kerria japonica is in the rose family), and are numerous, but not excessive, on the stems. The result is a spray of airily arranged gold held aloft by grassy green stems.

The double-flowered cultivar ‘Pleniflora’ is commonly available, but the single-flowered cultivars usually usually provide a better floral show.

Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora'

Other, harder to find cultivars:

‘Albescens’- semi-double pale yellow flowers

‘Golden Guinea’- slightly larger than the species in all aspects (see bloom above)

‘Kin Kan’- irregularly variegated stems are yellow and green. foliage and flowers are much like the species; not as vigorous as the species and may throw reverted stems.

‘Picta’- variegated, with a nearly white margin on each leaf, smaller than average blooms with less regularly shaped petals, and a tendency to stay smaller much longer than the species.

For further information about this and other flowering shrubs, be sure to visit the Hoffman Library, located in the Civic Garden Center!

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