Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

So what’s the name of this Lindera? Glauca/Angustifolia/Salicifolia?

November 6, 2018

Variations in autumn Lindera foliage from shrubs in my garden. These are all from Lindera angustifolia var. glabra.

Confusion seems to reign in the naming of an increasingly popular, and to my eye, very beautiful, resilient, and easy shrub. Many of us have seen different variations of the name and wondered what is correct. Are there different species, or are the names simply confused?

Taxonomist Julian Shaw of the Royal Horticultural Society has at last provided the correct nomenclature. Here’s how I found out.

Lindera shrub in a grassy context. The colors can knock your socks off.

My friend Giacomo Guzzon, a landscape architect in London, is visiting this week. We’ve been looking at several of my own Lindera shrubs, at many others used on the Princeton University campus by Michael Van Valkenburgh, and at even others at Chanticleer Garden.

This large, multistem Lindera is growing in shade in the asian woodland at Chanticleer Garden.

Giacomo sent a message off to the affable and extremely knowledgeable Jared Barnes, PhD, assistant professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. We remembered Jared had just posted on Lindera naming.

Jared sent Giacomo a link to the Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) Newsletter, Spring 2015 – Vol. 18, No. 1. You can find the details at this link.

Large Lindera used as hedge at Princeton University, with Giacomo providing scale.

It appears that the names Lindera sacilifolia and glauca are not valid names. In fact, there are two varieties of Lindera angustifolia. The Lindera growing in mainland China, which has soft hairs, is Lindera angustifolia var. angustifolia, and the Lindera growing in western Korea is Lindera angustifolia var. glabra, with smooth leaves.

At last I know what I have in my garden (I hope). Lindera angustifolia var. glabra.

All photos by Giacomo Guzzon (except the one he’s in!).


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynda HARRIS November 7, 2018 at 3:43 am

Dear James,
Such beautiful autumn foliage, thanks for clearing the nomenclature puzzle. I love to see your visits and research with Giacamo!
Best wishes,


James Golden November 9, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Thanks, Lynda. Hope to see you over here someday.


John Schucker November 8, 2018 at 8:39 am

Those in the Philadelphia area can experience a formal, clipped hedge of what I am guessing is L. angustifolia glabra at the Morris Arboretum. I saw it for the first time when visiting in late winter last year. Though my main objective was to see and smell the many witch hazels there, one of the most memorable experiences was encountering this clipped hedge still clothed in its brownish-tan leaves, rustling so effectively in the breeze. It was like the dry equivalent of a babbling brook and it made me think about how I could incorporate more of this shrub in my garden in a place where I could enjoy this distinctive music in the winter.

A Giacomo…viaggi così spesso in New Jersey. Sono appena tornato dall’Italia. Abbiamo passato 16 giorni in Piemonte. Non ho mai visto un paesaggio così coltivato intensivamente con vigneti dappertutto. Un mondo diverso. Saluti. J


James Golden November 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

John, they also can take many different forms under different light conditions and pruning approaches. I followed your time in Piemonte on Paul’s Instagram posts. It looked like a great time. They certainly light up a landscape in autumn.


Robert Clyde Anderson November 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

James thank you for that clarification, I’ve been wanting one of these since we saw it blazing away in your garden last fall… although looking back at my pictures from that day it seems it was mostly solid red, without all the variations it’s showing this year. Our fall color has been very late up here this season and interesting to see how weather and timing create different effects from year to year!


James Golden November 9, 2018 at 11:13 pm

I hope this answer is definitive, Robert, but I expect to hear that isn’t so eventually. I’ve been frustrated for a long time not knowing what to call mine and had really just used angustifolia and salicifolia at random. Today I saw them at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden labeled Lindera glauca Salicifolia, though that misnomer seems rampant. The Lindera colors very differently in different years depending on the weather. This year they tend to be bright orange and red. In past years, they have had different colors within the same leaf.


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