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Rice Paper Plant

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January 15, 2013
One of the easiest ways to add a tropical flair to any landscape is to use plants with large leaves. Rice paper plant is a favorite of mine that looks amazing. Rice paper plant is a native of southern China and Taiwan and is known botanically as Tetrapanax paperifera. It’s the foliage that really creates interest, With huge leaves that can be up to 15 inches across. The leaves have five to eleven coarse lobes. The undersides of the younger leaves have a dense white felt-like pubescence. The fan-like leaves are attached by very long petioles to the upright stems, and The flowers are produced in the fall. The conspicuous flower panicles can be three feet long and greater than three feet wide. These panicles are displayed above the plant foliage, and The flowers are ball shaped and covered in the dense pubescence. Rice paper plant readily spreads by underground roots called rhizomes, with New plants spring up at various points along these rhizomes. It’s not uncommon for new plants to pop up 20 feet away from the original plant, and any unwanted plants, like these in the lawn, can simply be pruned off. The name rice paper plant refers to the use of the interior of the stem, called pith, to make a form of rice paper. In Mississippi rice paper plant will die back in the winter and should be treated like many of our other perennial plants. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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