Rodgersia

Henrici hybrid of
Fingerleaf Rodgersia;
or, Bronzeleaf Rodger's Flower


"Pleasant it was, when woods were green,
And winds were soft & low,
To lie amid some sylvan scene.
Where, the long drooping boughs between,
Shadows dark & sunlight sheen
Alternate come & go."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)

   

After its winter dormancy, the stems & leaves of Rodgersia henrici (aka R. aesculifolia var henrici) reemerge in April a true milk-chocolate color, unfolding in the manner of fern croziers.

The flower buds accompanying the new foliage start out the same shade of chocolate. It was this amazing spring color that attracted me to this perennial, though not all strains are such a perfect Hershey's Kisses color, & the leaves do too soon age to green, retaining only a slight bronze sheen.

The stems age from chocolate to red. The leaves will regain interesting color in autumn when they turn red.

RodgersiaMature leaves are large, pleated, palmate with five to eight "fingers," resembling the leaves of a horse chestnut tree.

This native of China grows to at least three feet tall & two feet wide. Ours in deep shade reached five & a half feet tall counting the flower.

Though buds are present in April along with the new foliage, they are usually very slow to open, & it is in the main a late spring & early summer bloomer. The bloom consists of scores of tiny loosely conical cream-colored florets aging to partially pink.

The first photo shows April's momentarilyh chocolate foliage & buds. The second photo shows the loose pyramid of florets in June, shown against a western swordfern.

In west China it selects forest margins & subalpine meadows as its favorite locations. It requires moist soil & if it must it can even tolerates wet conditions, but is not kean on droughtiness (though it can survive some droughtiness when grown in deep shade).

It prefers bright shade but can tolerate full sun if it gets plenty of irrigation. Its care & disposition is a lot like Black Cohosh or Snake Plant, with which it makes a good like-sized companion.

It spreads by thick elongated rhizomes, which after a few years can be divided in early spring just before new leaf emergence.

   



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