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Products > Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant'
 
Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' - Giant Rice Paper Plant
   
Image of Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant'
[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
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' (Giant Rice Paper Plant) - A tall evergreen (in our climate) shrub often with a leaning trunk that grows 15 to 18 feet tall with enormous 3 foot wide deeply-lobed leaves clustered at the top of the trunk on long petioles. The leaves are a gray green color and smooth above with the underside covered with white, fine hairs. It is late fall blooming with small creamy white flowers in 1 inch round ball-like clusters held above the foliage in a branched inflorescence. Plant in sun or shade in nearly any soil and water occasionally to regularly. Hardy and evergreen to at least to 18 F and in colder climates, where it is listed as root hardy to around 0 F, it can be frozen to the ground and sucker back up to regenerate rapidly. It is tolerant of salt laden winds and sandy soil so is useful in gardens near the ocean. Though it can travel around the garden, often popping up many feet from the existing plant, is not terribly pesty and it easy to remove when small. This interesting plant can lend a tropical flavor to the garden but care should be taken about where it is planted as the hairs on leaf undersides can be an irritant to eyes or skin. The species is endemic to Taiwan, but has been widely cultivated in many parts of the world in tropical, subtropical and mediterranean climate regions. It is sometime listed in incorrectly as Tetrapanax papyriferus or T. papyriferum. 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. 'Steroidal Giant' is a particularly large form of a plant that already grows fairly large. It reportedly was sent in the 1970s by a gardener in Japan to Hawaii and then made its way to the long revered horticulturalist Ed Carman (1922-2002) at his Carman's Nursery in Los Gatos, California. Those who visited Ed at his nursery will remember the many rare plant jewels long growing in a pot that just needed a customer with a keen eye to purchase the plant and then plant it in the ground to fulfill its full potential. One such customer was plantsman Roger Warner who encountered this plant at Carman's Nursery in the mid 1980s. Warner previously worked for Western Hills Rare Plant Nursery, the incredible nursery of Lester Hawkins and Marshall Olbrich in Occidental, California, but when he scored 'Steroidal Giant' he was designing Jane Davenport Jansen's garden, which would become Quarryhill Botanical Garden and in 2021 was renamed Sonoma Botanical Garden. He initially thought the plant he got was a dwarf form of the species, but quickly realized it had been keep small in its pot and was anything but a dwarf. Warner dug a piece of the plant for Sean Hogan at Cistus Nursery in Oregon in 1997 and they introduced this plant more widely to the nursery trade. It was from Cistus Nursery that we got our stock plant in 2017. It is very similar, and perhaps the same, as a plant that circulates in Europe under the name Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' and there is another very nice larger unnamed cultivar growing well at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE# 20140206).  The information presented on this page is based on research we have conducted about this plant in our library and from reliable online sources. We also consider observations of it growing in our nursery crops, as well as in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens we visit. We will incorporate comments that we receive from others and welcome getting feedback from anyone who may have additional information, particularly if they include cultural information that would aid others in growing Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant'.