Blue Hortensia

Walking along the streets of London in the summer, I noticed the big bushes, covered with spherical blue, sometimes lilac, flowers. This colour is quite rare in flowers and so it made them more attractive. As I found out later, this was Hydrangea or Hortensia. Its second name the flower got in honor of sister of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Hortensia is native to southern and eastern Asia and the greatest species diversity is in China, Japan and Korea. The flower was introduced to Europe in 1820.

In most species the flowers are white, but can also be blue, red, pink, light purple, or dark purple – the colour depends on soil: acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral soils produce very pale cream petals, and alkaline soils results in pink or purple.
Hortensia is moderately toxic if eaten but anyway some varieties of Hortensia are used in medicine, especially in Chinese. For this purpose they take flowers, bark and roots. Hortensia cures malaria, sore throat, tonsillitis, and is used as a diuretic. In Japan and Korea flowers of Hortensia are used for herbal teas.

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