Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Rice-Paper Tree
Tetrapanax papyrifer

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Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Tetrapanax (tet-ruh-PAN-aks) (Info)
Species: papyrifer (pap-IH-riff-er) (Info)

Synonym:Aralia papyrifer
Synonym:Fatsia papyrifera
Synonym:Tetrapanax papyriferus

44 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Perennials
Shrubs
Trees

Height:
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

Spacing:
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:
Evergreen

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 32 photos.
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Profile:

8 positives
7 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral amscram On Apr 14, 2014, amscram from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is very attractive, but there are drawbacks, as folks have said. At my old house (raised on piers), it traveled all the way under the house and popped up on the other side! So it definitely will spread & you will need to keep it in check. The other thing is the light brown 'fluff' that covers the plant, especially the flower stalk. Even getting anywhere near that stuff always sent me into a protracted coughing fit.

Neutral D3VNT On Apr 13, 2014, D3VNT from Round Rock, TX wrote:

I bought one of these from Plant Delights Nursery last spring and I was a little disappointed with how it did - never got taller than 12". Maybe I didn't treat it right, I thought. After our freezes this year, the thing looked like it died. Dead, done. So I bought another one from PDN this year. After all, maybe it was my fault.

I received my new plant on 4/6. As you might expect, I noticed a new plant sprouting near the old dead stalk that same day. I finally got the new plant in the ground yesterday. And, as you might expect, today I noticed a volunteer coming up 3 feet away from the original. Now I have three!

So, at the very least, this plant is tenacious. I'll leave my rating as 'neutral' until I see if this thing can thrive here and put on some height.

Neutral burien_gardener On Jun 19, 2013, burien_gardener from Burien (SW Seattle), WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Unfortunately, the only source for this plant I can find online is Plant Delights in SC. The plant itself is $20 in a 3.5" pot. Even scarier is shipping across the country is prohibitive no matter what you buy.

Neutral TimBryant On Jun 5, 2013, TimBryant from FEEDING HILLS, MA wrote:

Also purchased the "Steroidal Giant" cultivar from Plant Delights. Is perfectly hardy here as a perennial. This species is highly invasive, and needs to be kept in check (as if it were a running bamboo !!!). My suggestion is to either grow it as a container plant, or cut out the bottom of a large bucket to contain it in the garden.

That being said, it gives a great tropical look to a temperate landscape. It could (and should) take the place of the highly toxic Ricinus. The plants are very similar in appearance.

I will be attempting to graft this plant onto a hardier rootstock, in order to maintain the stem (which turns to a dried stalk up here). Hopefully, it will also make the plant less invasive.

Negative vmr423 On Apr 21, 2013, vmr423 from Charleston, SC wrote:

Highly invasive exotic plant. My folks have this in their yard & it pushes up suckers through pavement & dislodges brick paving. Has spread from back yard all through the front & side yards & into adjoining neighbors' yards.

Recently noticed that one of our neighbors have planted this & already it is spreading in his yard.

Also highly allergenic- not many things bother me, but this plant's pollen really does make me feel ill. Supposedly attractive to bees, but the plants I've seen attract flies.

There must be some good alternatives- maybe giant cane bamboo, which is a native plant in the SE US- it's also tropical-looking, likes damp areas & will spread in some environments- good to prevent soil erosion... Or maybe Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark)? Or Liatris spicata (blazing star)? Or cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)? Or some kind of palm?

Positive johnthelandlord On Oct 3, 2012, johnthelandlord from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

Great tree and very interesting to look at the growth. Spreads and makes new plants in disturbed soil via seed where I am. It can be a little bit itchy like fig tree leaves but not as bad. So, not great to handle much. I had one about 20ft tall, with a trunk of at least 9" until the wind blew it down one day. If you cut off the top of the main stem, several new shoots will appear to have more of a bushy look.

Positive skwiff On Jul 25, 2011, skwiff from gillingham
United Kingdom wrote:

I perchesed this plant from hamton court garden show last year and since then the pant had experienced heavy snow and frost, I think it was about -18oC and buried under two feet of snow, the plant is still growing well!

Neutral kento On May 6, 2010, kento from Memphis, TN wrote:

We grew two plants one summer, and they grew very well - got about five feet tall. Then found out that it can be invasive. We dug them up and put one in a pot, where it seems to be doing alright. Even without the original plants in place, we've pulled up at least a dozen suckers. It went under a fence to my neighbor's yard, so I warned her about it.
It's pretty, but be careful with it.

Positive agavebob On Apr 21, 2010, agavebob from dade city, OH wrote:

I received the "Steroid Giant" version of this plant from Plants Delight last spring. It got about three foot tall and wide with large beautiful tropical-looking leaves. I mulched it heavily and Put a cushion of leaves around the trunk and it has now started getting leaves up the entire trunk beginning early April
Update 4/30/2010
I found a pup of the steroid giant coming up about 3 feet from last years trunk and just outside of the mulch-protected perimeter from last winter. That means that the pup/roots took -4 F without protection. I uprooted it and moved it to try it in a stightly shadier section of the garden.

Positive Keithlager On Nov 22, 2009, Keithlager from Thomasville, GA wrote:

I love it,when i moved here they were mowed and i would see them popping up arround the house.so i decided to lettem grow and loved them not knowing what they were at the time.they got so big and multiplied(spred) every where,i will dig up and replant them in different spots sometimes,or give some away.i have one by my front porch about 8/9 feet tall thats flowering and i was wondering if they have seeds.would someone tell me if they seed or just suck evrywhere?thanks Kl...oh yea i didnt see southwest(almost central)Georgia on the list.

Positive mswestover On Oct 5, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I bought one in spring 08 from PDN. It is in it's second year about 2-3 ft tall now. Sucked this spring so I moved some babies to other spots in the yard. Nice plant. Under drifting shade of oaks. Likes water.

Neutral macybee On Jan 13, 2008, macybee from Deer Park, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

From Botanica Encyclopedia:
This genus consists of one species, an evergreen, suckering shrub or small tree native to Taiwan and possibly another in Japan's Ryukyu Islands. A type of fine 'rice paper' is made from the white pith of the stems of this plant, hence both the common and species names. It is grown in temperate gardens for its very large, fan-like leaves; it works well where an exotic, tropical effect is required and space is available for its often rampant growth.
Cultivation:
Plants do best in mild climates, in sheltered, preferably lightly shaded spots and well-drained soil. Tolerant of salt winds and sandy soil, they adapt well to seaside conditions. Water container plants freely during warmer months. Prune to remove damaged foliage and spent flowerheads, and in winter remove canes at ground level to control the size of the plants. propagate from seed or cuttings in early spring.
Tetrapanax papyrifer
syns Aralia papyrifera, Fatsia papyrifera
This freely suckering shrub grows vigorously to 20' tall and has a similar spread. The huge, umbrella-like, many lobed leaves are a shiny mid-green above, felty underneath. New growth has a distinctive pale brownish bloom. The flowerheads are creamy white, fluffy balls held in large, loose panicles; they appear during fall and are followed by black berries. 'Variegata' has cream to white leaves tinged with bright to dark green.
Zones: 8-11

Positive outdoorlover On Apr 27, 2006, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have been growing this plant for 3 or 4 years and I love it! Each year it gets taller. Last year it was about 4 ft tall and 5 ft wide. We have heavy clay soil, and it is growing in complete shade. I have not seen any flowers on this plant; it may be because I have not fertilized it. Each year it spreads and about 5 - 10 new plants come up from each plant the last year. I have been digging up the new plants and giving them to friends because it does so well in our area. This is one of my favorite plants because of its hardiness and self-sufficiency. It has spread to areas which get no additional watering other than mother nature.

Positive rplingaltx On Apr 3, 2006, rplingaltx from Galveston, TX wrote:

I first saw this plant in Garden Design magazine last year. They were talking about a variety called, "Steroidal Giant". I am a HUGE fan of large leaved plants so I ordered one from Plant Delights Nursery. It arrived in record time and has already put out 3 new leaves. I am hoping it will get as large as some of the photos I have seen. There is a particularly amazing one on the Little and Lewis website. I think in our far southern climate it would benefit from afternoon shade. I know most large leaved plants have a hard time keeping up with the heat here in Galveston. Wish me luck! **update**
Well, it is safe to say that this plant is not salt tolerant. It was really doing well and then it was inundated in 7 feet of salt water during Hurricane Ike. It is dead. Dead. Dead. Gotta get me a new one now!

Neutral DonMobile On Apr 27, 2004, DonMobile from Mobile, AL wrote:

Grows in Mobile, AL.
Not much experience. Had them for a few years. Transplants easily ("harvested" mine from the side of the road). Spreads underground in some places AGRESSIVELY and can be a nuisance. Just pinch them off as they come up and pull out the root as much as possible. I have seen it spread 10-15 ft under pavers and rocks. I have not tried it in a planter or big pot. My nick name for these are "tropical weeds."

Positive anomina On Oct 5, 2003, anomina from Bradenton, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

A very attractive plant. I have sandy soil, to which I add slow release fertilizer once or twice a year. The Fatsia seems to have no objections and grows enthusiatically. It will even tolerate the once or twice we have short freezes.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Adana,
Anniston, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Wetumpka, Alabama
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Clovis, California
Davis, California
Los Angeles, California
San Francisco, California
Sonoma, California
Bartow, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Deland, Florida
Fort Mc Coy, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Lynn Haven, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Douglasville, Georgia
Thomasville, Georgia
Horse Cave, Kentucky
Wickliffe, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Bossier City, Louisiana
Elm Grove, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Bishopville, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Columbia, Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Saint Louis, Missouri
Clemmons, North Carolina
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Enid, Oklahoma
Eufaula, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon (2 reports)
Salem, Oregon
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
Cayce, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Ladys Island, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Memphis, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Azle, Texas
Baytown, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Nacogdoches, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
Bellevue, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Vancouver, Washington



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