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Common Name: Rice Paper Plant
Cultivated plant in Italy
Photograph by: Hectonichus
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Tetrapanax papyrifer is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 5.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
E. Asia - China, Taiwan.
Hillsides in mixed forests and shrub thickets at elevations of 100 - 2800 metres[
]. Subtropical forests[
Succeeds in any fertile soil[
] and in most situations[
]. Prefers a moist but well-drained humus-rich soil in full sun or semi-shade[
]. The plant requires a sheltered position in order to prevent damage to its large leaves[
Plants are not very hardy outdoors in Britain and are normally best grown in a cool greenhouse[
], but in selected sites they can tolerate temperatures down to about -5°c[
]. They are often cut back to ground level in cold winters but will normally regrow from the rootstock in the spring[
]. The plant can, in fact, become invasive, spreading by means of a vigorous suckering rootstock[
]. Plants are growing well at Menehay in Cornwall[
]. A young specimen was seen at Hilliers Arboretum in April 1999. It had about 3 years of growth above ground and was growing in a sheltered but fairly sunny position with no sign of die-back[
]. Even more established plants can be found growing by a south-facing wall against a greenhouse at Cambridge Botanical Gardens. They had at least 4 years of growth above the ground in spring 1999 and were spreading at the roots[
Plants are much cultivated in China for the pith obtained from the stems, which is used to make 'rice paper'[
A very ornamental plant[
], it is closely related to Fatsia japonica[
The flowers are produced in autumn and are often damaged by frosts[
]. No more details are given.
The pith is deobstruent, diuretic, febrifuge, galactagogue, sedative and vermifuge[
]. It is used in Korea in the treatment of oedema[
The inner pith of the stems is used to make 'rice paper'[
]. It is also used for making toys and flowers, for surgical dressings and for painting on[
]. The paper is made by cutting thin slivers from long sections of the pith[
Seed - sow autumn in a greenhouse[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on for at least their first year in the greenhouse. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from winter cold for their first few years outdoors[
Division of suckers in the early spring. They can be difficult to establish[
]. It is probably best to pot up the divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse until they are well established. Keep them in the greenhouse for their first winter then plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.