Family: Oleaceae Genus: Forsythia Species: ovata Common Name: Early Forsythia
Origin: Early forsythia is a small shrub that originated throughout the lands of Korea and was later introduced to the United States through trade and travel. When it was introduced to the US it was discovered that it best performed in cold hardiness zones 4-8 throughout the Midwestern states. Different cultivars of early forsythia are tolerant to different hardiness zones across the country.
Figure 1. USDS map of cold hardiness zones throughout the United States.
Google Photos 2018
Form: Early Forsythia is a small to medium sized shrub. The average early forsythia bush grows to a height of 4-8 feet, and a width of 4-8 feet. When unpruned the shrub has a random assortment with branches reaching up and out of the main canopy. When pruned the shrub has a more uniform and rounded shape.
Reproduction: Early forsythia is a monoecious shrub with imperfect flowers. This means that the shrub contains flowers with both male and female reproductive tissues in imperfect flowers, meaning each flower contains either male or female tissues, but not both. This allows the shrub to self fertilize, causing it to be one of the first shrubs to flower in the early spring. It's fruit is in the form of a dehiscent capsule meaning that the fruit is formed to break open along preformed lines. As well as natural reproduction, early forsythia can propagate in other ways as well. This includes planting by seed, and taking cuttings of healthy shrubs and allowing them to establish through proper care.
Figure 4. Dehiscent fruit of Early Forsythia. Google Photos 2018
Life Expectancy: Early forsythia is a rapidly growing shrub that takes approximately three years to fully mature. While it is a rapidly growing shrub it is also long lived and continues to reestablish year after year.
Site Characteristics: Early forsythia also grows in both urban and rural areas. However, when grown in urban areas it needs to be provided with enough room to grow so that it is not crowded by other plants. Early forsythia also needs plenty of sunlight in order to grow and establish. Full sun exposure is necessary so early forsythia should be planted in the south end of the yard with no buildings or shrubs of other species blocking the sun. Early forsythia also requires a soil that is consistently moist but also well drained, allowing it access to much needed water.
Wood Quality and Uses: The wood of early forsythia has a solid pith at the nodes and is lamellate at the internodes. This means that the pith transitions from being solid to having a plate-like structure between the nodes and internodes. Early forsythia is primarily utilized as an urban shrub with high aesthetic appeal. Despite having few uses apart from this the plant does have historical significance in its name, being that forsythia was named after William Forsyth the Scottish horticulturist whom was a founding member of the Royal Horticulture Society.
Figure 5. Photo of solid pith at stem node and lamellate pith at internodes. Google Photos 2018
Maintenance: In order to ensure the health of early forsythia bushes it is best to plant it in either spring or fall with spring being the best time to plant in areas where extreme cold is common. If pruning is desired it is best to prune in the spring every three to four years. When it comes time to prune it is best to only prune branches that have overgrown or are unhealthy. It is also important to understand the maintenance of pest and pathogens of early forsythia. Crown gall and leaf spots, twig and leaf blight, mites, weevils, and nematodes are all common pests and pathogens for early forsythia, however none are detrimental unless left untreated.
Figure 6. Crown gall of Early Forsythia. Google Photos 2018