fbpx White-forsythia | The Morton Arboretum


White forsythia flowering in spring.

The white-forsythia is a small shrub with a rounded to arching habit that is great for specimen planting. Its fragrant, white flowers bloom in early spring.  This early bloomer is spectacular in spring, but offers very little seasonal beauty through the rest of the year.  Prune after flowering to promote new stem growth and a fuller plant.  

Botanical name:

Abeliophyllum distichum

All Common Names:

White-forsythia, white forsythia, Korean abelialeaf

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

Light Exposure:

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

Hardiness Zones:

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

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil

Season of Interest:

  • Early spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate,
  • Fast

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

3 to 5 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide. 
Best in full sun in well-drained soil.

Prune every 3 to 4 years after flowering to promote new stem growth and encourage a fuller,tidier plant.
Can be cut to the ground to rejuvenate. 

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious diseases or pests

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Central Korea where it grows on hillsides.

Bark color and texture 

Young stems are light brown while older stems take on a shredded appearance.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple leaves arranged oppositely (in pairs), oval, 2 to 3 inches long, smooth edges.
Green leaves in summer; no significant fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

White, 4-petaled flowers in elongated clusters.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small, dry, winged capsule (not ornamentally important).

Location of Abeliophyllum distichum (White-forsythia) at the Arboretum