fbpx Black jetbead | The Morton Arboretum

Black jetbead

Leaves and flowers of black jetbead.

Whether planted in sun, or heavy shade, the black jetbead will prosper, making it a potential choice for shady sites. Use as a specimen or border plant. Showy white flowers, crisp green foliage, and black fruit clusters make this shrub distinct throughout the growing season.  This shrub does reseed and can be a problem in natural areas if not controlled.

Botanical name:

Rhodotypos scandens

All Common Names:

Black jetbead

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Season of Interest:

  • Late spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Mounded,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Thicket-forming

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size & form

3 to 6 feet high and 4 to 9 feet wide.
Open, loosely branched colony-forming shrub

Tree & Plant Care

Easily transplanted in full sun to dense shade , pH adapbtable. Best in well-drained soil.
Tough plant for difficult conditions, tolerant of polluted conditions.
Tolerant of aerial salt spray.

Disease, pests, and problems

Can be considered invasive near natural areas in some states.  Use with caution.
No serious disease or insect problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Japan and central China

Attracts birds & wildlife

Birds can eat berries and dispurse in woodland areas

Bark color and texture 

Young stems are green and smooth, older stems are gray and reddish brown. 

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, simple, 2 to 4 inches long with sharp, double serrated margins. 
Bright to medium green with ribbed veins and long pointed tip.
One of first shrubs to leaf out in spring.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

White, 4-petaled flower at tip of branches. Blooms in late spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A shiny black cluster, of 3-4 elliptical hard berries (drupe). Fruit is persistant in winter.

Location of Rhodotypos scandens (Black jetbead) at the Arboretum