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Forsythia x intermedia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Forsythia

See text

Forsythia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae (olive family). There are about 11 species, mostly native to eastern Asia, but one native to southeastern Europe. The common name is also Forsythia; the genus is named after William Forsyth.[1][2][3]

They are deciduous shrubs growing to 1–3 m (rarely 6 m) tall, with rough grey-brown bark. The leaves are opposite, usually simple but sometimes trifoliate with a basal pair of small leaflets, and range from 2–10 cm (rarely to 15 cm) long; the margin is serrated or entire. The flowers are produced in the early spring before the leaves, bright yellow with a deeply four-lobed corolla, the petals joined only at the base. The fruit is a dry capsule, containing several winged seeds.[1][4]

  • Forsythia europaea Degen & Bald. Balkans in Albania and Kosovo.
  • Forsythia giraldiana Lingelsh. Northwest China.
  • Forsythia japonica Makino. Japan.
  • Forsythia likiangensis Ching & Feng ex P.Y.Bai. Southwest China.
  • Forsythia mandschurica Uyeki. Northeast China.
  • Forsythia mira M.C.Chang. North central China.
  • Forsythia nakaii (Uyeki) T.B.Lee. Korea.
  • Forsythia ovata Nakai. Korea.
  • Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl. Eastern and central China.
  • Forsythia togashii H.Hara. Japan (Shōdoshima).
  • Forsythia viridissima Lindley. Eastern China.


A genetic study[6] does not fully match the traditionally accepted species listed above, and groups the species in four clades: (1) F. suspensa; (2) F. europaea — F. giraldiana; (3) F. ovata — F. japonica — F. viridissima; and (4) F. koreana — F. mandschurica — F. saxatilis. Of the additional species, F. koreana is usually cited as a variety of F. viridissima, and F. saxatilis as a variety of F. japonica;[7] the genetic evidence suggests they may be better treated as distinct species.

Forsythias are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Brown-tail and The Gothic.

Cultivation and uses

The hybrids Forsythia × intermedia (F. suspensa × F. viridissima) and Forsythia × variabilis (F. ovata × F. suspensa) have been produced in cultivation.[4]

Forsythias are popular early spring flowering shrubs in gardens and parks. Two are commonly cultivated for ornament, Forsythia × intermedia and Forsythia suspensa. They are both spring flowering shrubs, with yellow flowers. They are grown and prized for being tough, reliable garden plants. Forsythia × intermedia is the more commonly grown, is smaller, has an upright habit, and produces strongly coloured flowers. Forsythia suspensa is a large to very large shrub, can be grown as a weeping shrub on banks, and has paler flowers. Many named garden cultivars can also be found.[4]

Commercial propagation is usually by cuttings, taken from green wood after flowering in late spring to early summer; alternatively, cuttings may be taken between November and February.[4]

F. suspensa (Chinese: 连翘; pinyin: liánqiào) is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese herbology. Forsythia sticks are used to bow a Korean string instrument called ajaeng.


  1. ^ a b c Flora of China: Forsythia
  2. ^ a b Flora Europaea: Forsythia
  3. ^ a b St Andrews Botanic Garden: Plant of the Month: Forsythia
  4. ^ a b c d e Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  5. ^ University of Oxford, Oleaceae information site: Forsythia
  6. ^ Kim, K.-J. (1999). Molecular phylogeny of Forsythia (Oleaceae) based on chloroplast DNA variation. P. Syst. Evol. 218: 113-123. Abstract.
  7. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Forsythia
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Forsythia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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