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Tetrapanax papyriferus

Rice Paper Plant

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Key information

Plant type

Tender perennial

Flower colour

Light green


Dramatic foliage


Half hardy

Skill level


photo by Mark Bolton, copyright GAP Photos (320750)

Plant details

The huge hand-shaped foliage of this vigorous shrub make it a must for any serious fan of tropical-effect gardening. Its deeply-lobed leaves have curiously powdery undersides complemented by strange woolly flowers, adding to the plants jungle-like appearance. Despite being evergreen in its moist woodland home of Southern China and Taiwan, this species is usually treated as a half-hardy herbaceous perennial in the UK. Here if given a thick mulch & sheltered spot, plants cut back to ground level by winter frosts will invariably reappear promptly the following spring. For best results, plants should be given a moist, shady and sheltered spot, to mimic the conditions of their forest home. The inner pith of the stems is the source of rice paper, which is used in China to wrap sweets, make handicrafts and even prepare surgical dressings.

Family: Araliaceae

Genus: Tetrapanax

Species: papyriferus

Plant type: Tender perennial

Flower colour: Light green

Foliage colour: Dark green, Grey

Feature: Dramatic foliage

Sun exposure: Partial shade, Shade

Soil: Clay/heavy, Acidic, Chalky/alkaline, Moist

Hardiness: Half hardy

Skill level: Experienced

Height: 300cm

Spread: 300cm

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