Rhodotypos scandens: an underused shrub


Rhodotypos scandens is a rather unusual shrub that would find a home in many gardens, being easy to grow in sun or shade and even surviving in the shade of trees. Granted it is not the tidiest and most spectacular of shrubs and there is evidence that it can escape from cultivation, especially in the east of the USA, and become naturalised, but that should not stop you from considering this as an addition to your garden.

To all intents and purposes it looks like a single-flowered kerria but it is easily distinguished from this, and is unusual in the rose family, for having four petals instead of the usual five and in having opposite leaves, not alternate.

I find it a very attractive shrub with its deeply veined leaves and demure, pure white flowers, unsullied with its creamy white stamens. It will eventually make a loosely limbed shrub about 2m high and as much across and the flowers are followed by red, then black, very hard fruits that are mildly poisonous but not likely to be eaten. The flowers have no scent and are produced from late April to July.


It is native to China and can sucker when it is established. It could be more used in car parks etc since it is tolerant of pollution and general neglect.

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