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Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Dipsacales
Familia: Linnaeaceae
Genus: Abelia
Species: A. aitchinsonii - A. chinensis - A. umbellata
Hybrids: A. x grandiflora


Abelia R.Br.




Abelia (pronounced /əˈbiːliə/)[1] is a genus of about 15-30 species and many hybrids in that part of the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae split off by some authors in the segregate family Linnaeaceae. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group considers Linnaeaceae to encompass such genera as Linnaea, Abelia, Dipelta, Kolkwitzia, and Zabelia.

Abelias are shrubs from 1–6 m tall, native to eastern Asia (Japan west to the Himalaya) and southern North America (Mexico); the species from warm climates are evergreen, and colder climate species deciduous. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three, ovate, glossy, dark green, 1.5–8 cm long, turning purplish-bronze to red in autumn in the deciduous species. The flowers appear in the upper leaf axils and stem ends, 1-8 together in a short cyme; they are pendulous, white to pink, bell-shaped with a five-lobed corolla, 1–5 cm long, and usually scented. Flowering continues over a long and continuous period from late spring to fall.

Type species of this genus is Abelia chinensis. The generic name commemorates Clarke Abel, a keen naturalist who accompanied Lord Amherst's unsuccessful embassy to China in 1816 as surgeon, under the sponsorship of Sir Joseph Banks. All of Abel's seeds and plants were lost in a shipwreck on the homeward voyage, however; living plants of Abelia chinensis were first imported to England in 1844 by Robert Fortune, who introduced A. uniflora the following year.[2]

The showy semi-hardy Mexican A. floribunda of the Cordillera of Oaxaca was introduced to English horticulture in 1841.[3]

Selected species

* Abelia aitchinsonii
* Abelia biflora - (China)
* Abelia buddleioides - (China)
* Abelia chinensis - (China)
* Abelia coriacea - (Mexico)
* Abelia corymbosa - (Central Asia)
* Abelia curviflora - (Japan)
* Abelia dielsii - (China)
* Abelia engleriana - (Sichuan, China)
* Abelia fargesii - (Japan)
* Abelia floribunda - Mexican Abelia (Mexico)
* Abelia forrestii - (China)
* Abelia integrifolia - (Japan)
* Abelia ionostachya - (Japan)
* Abelia macrotera - (China)
* Abelia mexicana - (Mexico)
* Abelia mosanensis - (Korea)
* Abelia occidentalis - (Mexico)
* Abelia parvifolia - (China)
* Abelia serrata - (Japan)
* Abelia spathulata - (Japan)
* Abelia speciosa - (Mexico)
* Abelia tomentosa - (Japan)
* Abelia taihyonii - (Korea)
* Abelia triflora - (Himalaya)
* Abelia umbellata - (Sichuan, China)
* Abelia uniflora - (China)


* Abelia x grandiflora Hort. ex. Bailey

A Snowberry Clearwing (or Bumblebee Moth) Hemaris diffinis nectaring on Abelia
Cultivation and uses

Abelias are popular garden shrubs. The most widely grown is the hybrid Abelia x grandiflora (Glossy Abelia; hybrid Abelia chinensis x Abelia uniflora). This is a rounded, spreading, multi-stemmed shrub with gracefully arching branches to 1-1.8 m tall, with ovate, glossy, dark green semi-evergreen leaves to 2–6 cm long, and clusters of white-tinged-pink, bell-shaped flowers to 2 cm long.

Abelia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Abelia.
References and external links

1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607.
2. ^ Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964), 1992, s.v. "Abelia".
3. ^ Coats (1964) 1992.

* Barnes, P. 2001. Looking at Abelias. New Plantsman 8(2): 78-92 (clarification of nomenclature, history, and cultivars with an excellent key and photographs).

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