"This is my first time here, but it won't be my last" Sara, Plymouth
Trebah is famous for the two acre planting of blue Hydrangeas that take centre stage in late summer and autumn. The mophead Hydrangeas that grow in abundance at the bottom of the garden are easily recognised by even the most novice of gardeners, however the large specimen of Dichroa febrifuga that grows by the entrance to the Water Garden, could fool even the most knowledgeable of gardeners into thinking it was a Hydrangea!
Dichroa is a rare and unusual relative of our familiar garden shrub. It is a tropical to sub tropical plant from the foothills of the Himalayas from Nepal to China that needs a warm sheltered position. Its flowers are dark blue, followed by metallic dark blue fruits that far exceed the flowers in beauty.
The genus name Dichroa comes from the Greek, dichroos (two coloured) makes reference to the variability of flower colour, and the species name febrifuga denotes its medicinal use as a febrifuge which serves to dispel or alleviate fever. This leads us on to its common name of Chinese Quinine. A medicine made from the roots has been used in China for at least 2000 years and is reportedly 26 times more powerful than quinine in the treatment of malaria.