AppearanceThe term ''macrophylla'' means large- or long-leaved. The opposite leaves can grow to 15 cm in length. They are simple, membranous, orbicular to elliptic and acuminate. They are generally serrated.
The inflorescence of ''Hydrangea macrophylla'' is a corymb, with all flowers placed in a plane or hemisphere, or even a whole sphere in cultivated forms. Two distinct types of flowers can be identified: central, non-ornamental, pentamerous ones, and peripheral, ornamental, tetramerous ones. The latter have sterile pistils with fertile stamen. The four sepals of decorative flowers have colors ranging from pale pink to red fuchsia purple to blue. The non-decorative flowers have five small greenish sepals and five small petals. Flowering lasts from early summer to early winter. The fruit is a subglobose capsule.
Distribution''Hydrangea macrophylla'' is native to Japan and possibly Korea. It is reported from seaside habitats as well as mountains in Japan, from Honshu southwards. This species has naturalized in China, New Zealand and the Americas.
UsesAmacha is a Japanese beverage made from fermented leaves of ''Hydrangea macrophylla'' var. ''thunbergii''.
''Hydrangeae Dulcis Folium'' is a drug made from the fermented and dried leaves of ''H. macrophylla var. thunbergii'' with possible antiallergic and antimicrobial properties. It also has a hepatoprotective activity by suppression of D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in vitro and in vivo.
''Hydrangea macrophylla'' is included in the Tasmanian Fire Service's list of low flammability plants, indicating that it is suitable for growing within a building protection zone.
Leaf extracts of ''Hydrangea macrophylla'' are being investigated as a possible source of new chemical compounds with antimalarial activity. Hydrangeic acid from the leaves is being investigated as a possible anti-diabetic drug as it significantly lowered blood glucose, triglyceride, and free fatty acid levels in laboratory animals.
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