Forsythia: Plant profile
Forsythia, Border Forsythia, Golden Bells, Yellow Bells, Lian Qiao
Mostly native to eastern Asia, except Forsythia europaea, native to the Balkans in southeastern Europe. Commonly planted in British and Irish gardens.
Where to find Forsythia
Forsythia do not normally grow wild, but it’s occasionally planted in parks and widely used in gardening.
When to find Forsythia
The plant blooms early spring for a short period of time.
How to identify Forsythia
Deciduous large, upright shrubs with arching stems. The leaves grow opposite each other and are ovated and serrated, though there are different varieties. The leaves also only appear after the flowers. These are yellow and tubular, with four petals that only join at the base. Flowers cover the entire shrub in early spring.
Wintersweet (Chimonanthus sp.) and Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) can look quite similar. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) have certain resemblance from the distance.
All about Forsythia
A very welcome sight after a hard winter, Forsythia is one of the first bloomers to catch your eye every season, bursting into bright yellow shrubs overnight to then lose its colour two weeks later, becoming rather boring for the rest of the year again.
This genus is named after William Forsyth, a British royal gardener and founding member of the RHS, who brought the plant from China to England centuries ago.
Cultivated as a low-maintenance ornamental bush, Forsythia is an extremely popular ornamental shrub in parks and gardens all over the UK and Ireland and is seldom found out of cultivated spaces.
Culinary uses and recipes with Forsythia
Blossoms are edible raw, though they taste rather bitter. Toss a few fresh flowers in a salad for decoration, combining with other foraged leaves in season. It can be made into syrup, jelly, tea and infusions and petals can be added to gin & tonic..
Medicinal properties of Forsythia
Chinese medicine has been using the plant for thousands of years and Weeping Forsythia (Forsythia suspensa) fruit (Lian Qiao) is well appreciated as a medicinal herb, with an antiseptic effect among other qualities. There is not a great deal of scientific information readily available on safety, therefore caution is advisable.
Safe foraging of Forsythia
There is limited information on the effects of using Forsythia.
Leaves contain the glycoside Phillyrin.
Ecological importance of Forsythia
The flowers feed a variety of insects, including small bees and pollinating flies.