Friday in the Garden: A Rare Plant Blooming

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Astilboides tabularis

Most people have never seen today’s plant. It doesn’t even have a common name, but goes by its scientific name, Astilboides tabularis. As the genus name indicates, it resembles astilbe, a common perennial, in some aspects. In this case it’s the flower – though it doesn’t bloom every year for me, and then only for a few days. I grow it for the leaves.

Astilboides tabularis

Astilboides has huge leaves that are nothing like astilbe leaves. This morning I brought out a yard stick and one leaf was 28 inches across. The flower stalk reached up 54 inches, and the leaves were about 2 to 3 feet above the ground.

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It grows in shade, and I have it in dry shade. But if we go 2 or 3 weeks without rain, I have to water it or the leaves will collapse. It would probably prefer a location with more natural moisture. Tree roots in dry shade are competition for plants growing there, too.

Close-up of the flowers

Like many of my scarce plants, I bought this one from CiderHill Garden in Windsor, Vermont. I’ve had mine for about 10 years, so it is definitely hardy in my cold Zone 4 garden. It isn't for you, however,  if you are a very fussy gardener: it collects dirt, leaves, dead bugs and more in the huge, table-like leaves.

Sticks and dirt are common on the leaves.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I will be featuring one flower or vegetable or something interesting in my garden most days. Then on Sundays I will have a full length story of the kind that used to run in the Valley News, and have been appearing here on Sundays.  

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