Its nickname pays tribute to its culinary qualities.

Hydrangea plants are fixtures of so many Southern yards. Not only do these plants thrive in the Southern clime, but they're oh-so-pretty to look at. Planting hydrangeas is one easy way to instantly brighten up your yard. When it comes to caring for your hydrangeas, little effort is required to keep your shrubs happy and healthy.

But some hydrangeas aren't just pretty to look at—they can serve functional purposes, too. And we're not just talking about maximizing your curb appeal; the leaves of the Hydrangea serrata can be used to make sweet tea.

The leaves of Hydrangea serrata contain a substance called phellodulcin, which can be used as a sugar substitute. In Buddhist tradition, these young hydrangea leaves are dried out and used to make ceremonial "tea of heaven." The name has stuck: You may have heard this hydrangea variety referred to as "Tea of Heaven," a nickname that pays tribute to the hydrangea's culinary qualities.

This lacecap variety commonly blooms in pink or blue depending on the pH of the soil, so they'll make a very pretty addition to your garden landscape. A shrub that delivers both fashion and function? We're in.

The Hydrangea serrata is smaller and more compact than some other varieties; it makes a lovely accent or border plant and thrives in small spaces. The Hydrangea serrata, native to Japan and China, thrives in USDA zones 6-8, preferring deep or partial shade. It blooms from June to August, so you'll be able to enjoy the pretty flowers (and the sweet tea) all summer long.