TETRAPANAX Papyrifer 'Rex'

The Tetrapanax papyrifer - otherwise known as the 'rice paper plant', is a spectacularly exotic looking foliage plant from the Araliaceae family. In fact its leave are so large that it is the only plant that can rival the county's largest leaved plant - Gunnera manicata!

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex'
Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' flowers
The common name of 'rice paper plant' is quite accurate as the pith from the stem is used to make a substance known as rice paper -although it should be more accurately called pith paper!

The deeply-lobed, mid-green, palmate leaves of the Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' can grow up to a 3ft-4ft across. Unusually, they are felted pale green underneath.

The Tetrapanax can grow between 9 ft-10 ft tall in the United Kingdom, but this is far exceeded in more favourable climates to up to 20 ft.

In the United Kingdom it does live on the edge of hardiness so if you do want to grow it outside then you are gong to need a warm, sheltered position that can accommodate its enormous size.

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex'
Tetrapanax papyrifer Botanical illustration
It is happy in most soils so long as they are free draining. Be aware though that Tetrapanax is prone to suckering! Furthermore, if your soil becomes waterlogged over the winter then there is a good chance that you Tetrapanax will not survive.

The Tetrapanax produces white flowers in the autumn which is followed by black fruits.

It is an undemanding plant but will require heavy mulching in order to help protect the root system over winter.

Variety or cultivar: 'Rex' is a tender, thicket-forming, evergreen shrub or small tree with stout shoots bearing even bigger leaves. Large clusters of white flowers in autumn are followed by spherical black fruit.

Toxicity: Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Pollen may also cause an allergic reaction.

For related articles click onto the following links:
TETRAPANAX Papyrifer 'Rex'
THE MARLBOROUGH ROCK DAISY - Pachystegia insignis

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