plant named ‘NCHA4’

- North Carolina University

A new and distinct Hydrangea cultivar named ‘NCHA4’ is disclosed, characterized by large, mop-head inflorescences with prevalent sterile flowers. Plants produce distinctive two-toned sepals with pink upper surfaces and deep pink lower surfaces. Plant habit is compact, and plants are triploid. The new variety is a Hydrangea normally produced as an outdoor garden or container plant.

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Latin name of the genus and species: The Latin name of the novel plant Variety disclosed herein is Hydrangea arborescens.

Variety denomination: The seedling of Hydrangea arborescens disclosed herein has been given the varietal denomination ‘NCHA4’.


The present invention comprises a new and distinct hydrangea cultivar hereinafter referred to by the cultivar name ‘NCHA4’. This new hydrangea was developed through a breeding program at North Carolina State University, Mills River, N.C. ‘NCHA4’ was selected from a population of seedlings that resulted from a cross of the seed parent Hydrangea arborescens H2008-143-001 (unpatented) and the pollen parent Hydrangea arborescens H2009-068-007 (unpatented). See FIG. 1 for complete pedigree. The first asexual propagation of ‘NCHA4’ was carried out in July 2012 by rooting stem cuttings at the North Carolina State University, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, Mills River, N.C. and has been asexually reproduced repeatedly by vegetative cuttings over a two year period. ‘NCHA4’ roots readily from softwood cuttings treated with a basal dip of 2,500-5,000 ppm indole butyric acid (potassium salt) in water. ‘NCHA4’ has been found to retain its distinctive characteristics through successive asexual propagations.


The following are the unique combination of characteristics of this new cultivar when grown under standard horticultural practices at North Carolina State University, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, Mills River, N.C.

    • 1. Very large mop-head inflorescences (i.e., a hortensia flower form) with prevalent sterile flowers.
    • 2. Two-toned sepals with pink upper surfaces and deep pink lower surfaces.
    • 3. Triploid cytotype.
    • 4. Compact form.


‘NCHA4’ is similar to the seed parent in most horticultural characteristics, however, the new variety differs in the following:

    • 1. The new variety has a different red-purple sterile sepal color.
    • 2. The new variety has as different genome size, 3.8 pg, compared to 2.7 pg of the seed parent.

‘NCHA4’ is similar to the pollen parent in most horticultural characteristics, however, the new variety differs in the following:

    • 1. The new variety has a darker red-purple sterile sepal color.
    • 2. The new variety has as different genome size, 3.8 pg, compared to 5.2 pg of the pollen parent.


Table 1 shows distinguishing characteristics between ‘NCHA4’, and other commercially available cultivars of Hydrangea arborescens. Hydrangea ‘NCHA4’ has a unique combination of traits including large mophead inflorescences, two-toned pink sepals, a compact form, and a triploid cytotype.

TABLE 1 Comparison to commercial cultivars. Taxa H. arborescens H. arborescens H. arborescens ‘NCHA1’ ‘NCHA2’ ‘NCHA3’ (U.S. Plant (U.S. Appli- (U.S. Appli- Pat. No. cation No. cation No. Trait 20,765) 14/545,787) 14/545,795) Ploidy level Diploid Triploid Triploid (genome size, (2.7 pg) (3.9 pg) (3.8 pg) pg) Growth habit Rounded Rounded Rounded Height and 100 cm × 100 80 cm × 80 cm 60 cm × 60 cm width cm Stem 5 to 15 cm Avg. 7 cm Avg. 6 cm internode (typical range: (typical range: length 3 to 10 cm) 3 to 8 cm) Flowers per inflorescence Fertile Approx. 600 Approx. 150 Approx. 150 Sterile Approx. 600 Approx. 300 Approx. 300 Corymb 8-20 cm Avg. 14 cm Avg. 12 cm diameter Sepal color Above Red-Purple Red-Purple Red-Purple (ranges from (65A to 67C) (60C) fading to 68D/C to fading to Red- Red-Purple N66D/N66C) Purple (65C) (70C) Below Red-Purple Red-Purple Red-Purple (ranges from (63B) (60A) 68D/C to N66D/N66C) Sepal Length 0.5-0.7 cm Avg. 1.2 cm Avg. 1.0 cm Width 0.3-0.5 cm Avg. 1.0 cm Avg. 0.7 cm Taxa H. arborescens H. arborescens ‘NCHA4’ ‘PIIHA-I’ (U.S. Application No. (U.S. Plant Pat. No. Trait 14/545,796) 21,227) Ploidy level Triploid Unknown (genome size, (3.8 pg) pg) Growth habit Rounded Upright, spreading Height and 80 cm × 80 cm 90 cm × 90 cm width Stem Avg. 7 cm About 6 cm internode (typical range: 3 to 10 cm) length Flowers per inflorescence Fertile Approx. 200 Approx. 75 Sterile Approx. 400 Approx. 300 Corymb Avg. 20 cm Avg. 12.5 cm diameter Sepal color Above Red-Purple (63D to 65B) Close to Red-Purple (58A) Below Red-Purple (63A) Close to Red-Purple (63A) Sepal Length Avg. 1.0 cm 0.7 cm Width Avg. 0.7 cm 0.5 cm


This new hydrangea is illustrated by the accompanying photographs which show the plant's pedigree, form, foliage and inflorescences. Photographs were taken on 2-year-old plants. The colors shown are as true as can be reasonably obtained by conventional photographic procedures. Colors in the photographs may differ slightly from the color values cited in the detailed botanical description, which accurately describe the colors of the new hydrangea.

FIG. 1 Shows the pedigree of ‘NCHA4’.

FIG. 2 Shows the inflorescences with pink sepals.

FIG. 3 Shows the form of a field-grown plant.

FIG. 4 Shows the form of a container-grown plant.


The following is a detailed description of the botanical characteristics of the new and distinct hydrangea variety plant known by the denomination ‘NCHA4’. The detailed description was taken on a three-year-old field-grown plant in Mills River, N.C. in 2014. All colors cited herein refer to The Royal Horticultural Society Colour Chart (The Royal Horticultural Society (R.H.S.), London, 2001 Edition). Where specific dimensions, sizes, colors, and other characteristics are given, it is to be understood that such characteristics are approximations or averages set forth as accurately as practicable.

Technical Description of the Variety

  • Classification:
      • Botanical name.—Hydrangea arborescens ‘NCHA4’.
      • Common name.—Smooth Hydrangea.
  • Parentage: ‘NCHA4’ originated as a seedling that resulted from a cross of H. arborescens H2008-143-001 and H. arborescens H2009-068-007.
  • Plant description:
      • Growth habit.—Rounded. Non-climbing.
      • Height (from top of soil including inflorescences).—About 80 cm.
      • Width (including inflorescences).—About 80 cm.
  • Shoot and stem:
      • Length.—60 cm (typical range: 40 to 80 cm).
      • Diameter.—0.5 cm (typical range: 0.3 to 0.9 cm).
      • Internode length.—7 cm (typical range: 3 to 10 cm).
      • Immature shoot texture (current year).—Pubescent.
      • Immature shoot color (current year).—Yellow-Green (146C).
      • Mature stem texture (from prior year).—Glabrous.
      • Mature stem color (from prior year).—Grey-Brown (199D).
      • Fasciation.—Not present.
      • Lenticels.—Not present.
  • Branching habit: Freely branching with as many as 100 or more terminal shoots.
  • Leaves:
      • Type.—Simple.
      • Persistence.—Deciduous.
      • Arrangement.—Opposite.
      • Shape.—Broadly ovate. Not lobed.
      • Apex.—Acuminate. Tip length approximately 5 to 10 mm.
      • Base.—Cordate to rounded.
      • Venation.—Pinnate, opposite to subopposite.
      • Vein color.—Upper: Yellow-Green (148B). Lower: Yellow-Green (148D).
      • Margins.—Dentate to serrate.
      • Texture.—Upper surface: Glabrous. Lower surface: Slightly pubescent.
      • Emerging leaves.—Color: Upper and lower: Yellow-Green (146B).
      • Mature leaves during growing season.—Color: Upper: Green (139A). Lower: Yellow-Green (146B). Length of lamina: Avg. 8 cm (typical range: 6 to 9 cm). Width: Avg. 6 cm (typical range: 3 to 8 cm).
      • Leaf attachment.—Petiolate
      • Petiole.—Length: Avg. 3 cm (typical range: 1 to 4 cm). Diameter: Avg. 0.2 cm (typical range: 0.15 to 0.25 cm). Color: Yellow-Green (147D) flushed with Greyed-Red (181B).
  • Inflorescence:
      • Description.—Fertile (approximately 400) and sterile (approximately 200) flowers arranged on individual hemispherical or dome-shaped terminal, compound corymbs. Fertile flowers moderately conspicuous.
      • Flowering season.—Late May to late June in Mills River, N.C.
      • Corymb.—Diameter: Average 20 cm (typical range: 15 to 25 cm). Height: Average 10 cm (typical range: 8 to 12 cm). Quantity: Often 100 or more corymbs per plant over the flowering season. Longevity: Showy for approximately 4 weeks.
      • Sterile flowers.—Petals, pistils and stamens are greatly reduced (<0.5 mm). Buds: Shape: Round. Diameter: 0.2 cm. Color: Red-Purple (63A-59B). Sepals: Number: 2 to 4. Length: Avg. 1.0 cm (typical range: 0.7 to 1.2 cm). Width: Avg. 0.7 cm (typical range: 0.5 to 1.0 cm). Shape: Oval. Apex: Mucronate to rounded. Base: Rounded. Margin: Entire. Texture: Glabrous upper and lower surfaces. Color: Upper: Red-Purple (63B-65B). Lower: Red-Purple (63A).
      • Fertile flowers.—Sepals and petals are greatly reduced (<0.5 mm). Buds: Shape: Round. Diameter: 0.2 cm. Color: Red-Purple (59A). Width: 0.2 cm. Height: 0.2 cm.
  • Reproductive organs:
      • Gynoecium.—Pistil number: 2, fused. Pistil color: White (155B). Pistil length: 0.2 cm. Stigma shape: Blunt. Stigma diameter: 0.025 cm. Style length: 0.1 cm (typical range: 9.5 to 10.9 mm). Ovary shape: Rounded. Ovary diameter: 0.1 cm. Ovary color: Near RHS Yellow-Green 145B.
      • Androecium.—Stamen number: 10. Anther: Shape: Rounded, fusiform. Length: 0.05 cm. Color: White (158D). Filament: Length: 0.2 cm. Color: White (155B). Amount of pollen: None observed.
  • Fruit/seed set: Seeds are minute, dust-like.
  • Disease and insect resistance: No significant disease or insect pests have been observed.
  • Cold hardiness: At least USDA zone 6b; testing has not been completed in colder zones.
  • Genome size: Flow cytometry was conducted to determine DNA content which is directly correlated with ploidy among closely related taxa. Holoploid, 2C DNA content was determined on newly expanded leaf tissue. Nuclei were extracted, stained with 4′,6-Diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI), and analyzed (minimum of 5,000 nuclei per sample) using a flow cytometer (PA-I, Partec, Minster, Germany). Pisum sativum L. ‘Ctirad’, with a known genome size of 8.75 pg was used as an internal standard. 2C DNA content for ‘NCHA4’ was 3.8 pg, approximately 1.5 times the DNA content of a diploid (e.g., ‘NCHA1’), and consistent with being a triploid as would be expected from an interploid cross between diploid and tetraploid parents (see Table 1).


1. A new and distinct cultivar of Hydrangea arborescens named ‘NCNA4’ as shown and described herein.

Patent History
Patent number: PP28280
Type: Grant
Filed: Jun 18, 2015
Date of Patent: Aug 15, 2017
Patent Publication Number: 20160374246
Assignee: North Carolina University (Raleigh, NC)
Inventor: Thomas Green Ranney (Arden, NC)
Primary Examiner: Keith Robinson
Application Number: 14/545,796
Current U.S. Class: Hydrangea (PLT/250)
International Classification: A01H 5/02 (20060101);