Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Crow-dipper, Ban xia
Pinellia ternata

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pinellia (pie-NEL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: ternata (ter-NAY-tuh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From bulbils

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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2 positives
No neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive zanejr On May 28, 2013, zanejr from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6b) wrote:

I didn't know this one was cold hardy, but its pretty when it blooms. I've always kept it in my greenhouse every winter. The thing I like about it is the bulbs can be removed from the leaves and planted seperately to make new plants. The spadix looks like a big tongue coming out of the spathe's mouth like a snake, very nice!

Negative mnist On May 16, 2013, mnist from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

Pinellia ternata is a cancer here in the Northeast U.S. Once it's in a bed, you might just as well put in a lawn and forget it.

Last summer I tried that idea of cutting the leaves off as soon as they appeared (stirrup hoes make that somewhat easy) but no luck -- the plant rebounds by dividing bulblets and rhizomes faster than ever.

This year my plan was to methodically dig the bulbs out of sections of beds one by one. But because the leaf stems are weak and break off before you can get to the bulb, I soon realized I missed almost as many as I found. All my tedious work was almost for nothing. If there's a single bulb left in your garden, you have failed because it'll come back with a vengeance.

And don't forget the seeds under the soil line waiting to germinate. I thought I actually had one bed clear, only to see that there were *dozens* of teeny plants already sprouting!!

To summarize: digging the bulbs by hand is slow, dirty, difficult and ineffective. Cutting or pulling the leaves does not exhaust the bulbs and seems to encourage them to reproduce faster. What to do?

My friend is a professional garden landscaper. He recommends using RoundUp which will kill off many, but not all of them. There are seeds still in the soil waiting to sprout and so are any bulbs that didn't send out leaves yet. Conceivably you could be spraying every few weeks just to stay even with the new arrivals!

This is a very unpleasant "solution" for me because I have always been an organic gardener. But this week I bought my first container of the stuff and started to apply it directly to the plants. I don't know how successful this will be, but I don't know what else to do at this point. If I give up, my whole garden will be lost.

Positive TCMGardener On Mar 1, 2013, TCMGardener from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

While you are all certainly correct that this is a very invasive weed. It is also a very useful one for those of us who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The rhizome of Pinellia ternata is known as Ban Xia in TCM, and regularly used for a variety of conditions. It is toxic unless prepared by someone who knows the traditional methods of reducing the toxicity using ginger or salts. As with all invasives, care should be taken if you intend to grow it to insure that it doesn't take over things. One man's noxious weed is another man's medication.

Negative merion On Jun 4, 2012, merion from Merion Station, PA wrote:

This weed has invaded my garden. It is everywhere. I covered several beds with paper for 2 years but it has returned because of roots from adjacent areas. I am at my wit's end.

Negative libgardener On May 30, 2011, libgardener from Ambler, PA wrote:

This plant is mostly definitely an incredibly invasive weed. In three years it has overtaken a well-established perennial bed. In checking with local garden supplier (Primex) the recommendation is to cut the leaves continuously over several growing seasons. Because of its extensive underground root system pulling the plants up won't help. By cutting the leaves the plant will expend its energy in new leaf growth rather than root growth (hopefully).

No responsible gardener should be selling or trading this plant!!

Negative chill750 On May 28, 2011, chill750 from Villanova, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is not a plant - it is a highly invasive weed which is impossible to get rid of. And it is spreading throughout my acre of land somehow. Hand digging seems to be the only way to eliminate it before it totally infests a garden bed. Wait too long and it is impossible. It will grow through 6" of mulch. If anyone has a method of eliminating it I would love to know it. Herbicudes do not work. Any nursery that sells this plant is irresponsible. I no longer give away plant divisions for fear of spreading this demon which has robbed me of much of my love of gardening.


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

Merced, California
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Ambler, Pennsylvania
Brookhaven, Pennsylvania
Flourtown, Pennsylvania
Merion Station, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4 reports)
Villanova, Pennsylvania
Cabin Creek, West Virginia

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