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Products > Tetrapanax papyrifer
Tetrapanax papyrifer - Rice Paper Plant
Image of Tetrapanax papyrifer
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Araliaceae (Ginsengs)
Origin: Taiwan (Asia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Creamy White
Bloomtime: Winter
Synonyms: [T. papyriferus, Fatsia papyrifera, Aralia]
Height: 10-16 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Tetrapanax papyrifer (Rice Paper Plant) - A tall evergreen tree-like shrub often with a leaning trunk with rough bark that grows 10-15 feet tall from a spreading rhizomatous root system. The large deeply-lobed leaves cluster at the top of the fuzzy stems on long petioles and are a gray-green color, smooth above with the underside covered with white, fine hairs. Winter-blooming creamy small white flowers form large clusters. Plant in sun or shade in nearly any soil and water occasionally to regularly. Hardy at least to 18 F and in colder climates it can be frozen to the ground and sucker back up to regenerate rapidly. It is an evergreen plant in gardens in USDA Zone 8 and above and a die back perennial in colder locations. Position where it gets some shelter from wind that can tear its foliage but otherwise it is tolerant of near seashore location and sandy soil so is useful in gardens near the ocean. It is also not an appealing plant to deer or rabbits. It can travel around the garden, often popping up many feet from the existing main plant but is not terribly pesty and it easy to remove when small and care should be taken when this is done as the hairs can be a mild irritant to eyes or skin. It is fairly sensitive to oak foot fungus, Armillaria mellea, but often new shoots pop up just as older plants succumb. This interesting plant lends a tropical flavor to the garden. It is monotypic (the only species in the genus) and comes from southern China and northern Taiwan, but has been widely cultivated in many parts of the world in tropical, subtropical and mediterranean climate regions. Often listed as Tetrapanax papyriferus, the species name is also spelled variously as "papyriferum" and "papyrifer", which The Plant List notes as being currently correct. The name for the genus is from the Greek word 'tetra' meaning "four" and 'panax' a related Araliaceae genus name in reference to the flowers being in fours and its resemblance to genus Panax. The species was once included in the genus Fatsia as Fatsia papyrifera and Aralia as Aralia papyrifer. The specific epithet, from a reference to the Egyptian Papyrus has to do with the pith of the center of the stem being used to make a substance commonly known as rice paper, but more properly is pith paper as it has nothing to do with rice and it is thought this common name likely came about because of a misunderstanding of early western explorers who were under the impression that the paper was made from rice straw. This material was also used to make artificial flowers. We have grown this plant in our nursery since 1982 and our current plants are grown from seed from of the particularly large selection known as Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant'The information about Tetrapanax papyrifer displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.