Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil
  • Tolerances Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Arching, Irregular, Multi-stemmed, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size & form:

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

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 leaves are 1 to 3 inches long. Medium-green leaves change to soft yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

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

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

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

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 old wood, so prune after flowering to maintain shape. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Does not tolerate heavy wet soil, wind, or occasional drought.

The Bride Pearlbush (Exochorda racemosa ‘The Bride’):

A compact, rounded shrub reaching 4 feet high and wide.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift