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Common pearlbush

White flowers of pearlbush, cultivar 'The Bride'.

Common pearlbush is an old-fashioned, but not commonly used  shrub. This attractive and fairly long-blooming shrub has small, round, pearl-like flower buds that open in sequence to pure white, five-petaled flowers. Foliage is medium green turning to a soft yellow fall color. Older bark peels off, similar to birch, adding winter interest.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Exochorda racemosa

All Common Names:

Pearlbush, common pearlbush, Turkestan pearlbush, Chinese pearlbush, Wilson's pearlbush

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

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

Hardiness Zones:

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

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil


  • Occasional drought

Season of Interest:

  • Early spring,
  • Mid spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Irregular,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size & form

An upright,  multi-stemmed,10 to 12 feet tall shrub, often with fountain-like branching habit.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil.
Benefits with a light mulch to maintain moisture and moderate soil temperature.
Flowers on older wood, prune after flowering to maintain shape.

Disease, pests, and problems

Does not tolerate heavy wet soil.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Wind, occasional drought.

Native geographic location and habitat

Eastern China

Bark color and texture 

Gray brown to orange-brown. Older stems exfoliate.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, elliptical, 1 to 3 inches long. Medium green changing to soft yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Clusters of 3 to 5 inch long, pearl-like buds open to 5-petaled pure white flowers in early spring.
Buds open sequentially, from bottom to tip extending bloom period for several weeks.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A 5-valved,  green, dehiscent capsule eventually turning brown for winter.

Cultivars and their differences 

The Bride Pearlbush (Exochorda racemosa 'The Bride'): A compact, rounded shrub reaching 4 feet high and wide.

Location of Exochorda racemosa (Common pearlbush) at the Arboretum