Cast Iron Plant
Aspidistra elatior Blume is the correct and accepted name of the Cast Iron Plant. It was first described by Carl (Karl) Ludwig von Blume in Tijdschrift voor Natuurlijke Geschiedenis en Physiologie in 1834.
The genus was named by John Bellenden Ker Gawler in 1822. Since then it has been moved around in several different families and is currently in the Asparagaceae family. They are native to eastern and southeastern Asia, particularly China and Vietnam.
Plants of the World Online by Kew currently lists 122 accepted species of Aspidistra.
The Cast Iron Plant is another species that was at the mansion. If you have never been around this plant, you are missing a true marvel of God’s creation. The photo shows the Aspidistra on one side of the HUGE Magnolia tree in the backyard in Mississippi on December 16, 2009 (I had just started using the new camera and had not set it up yet. SO, the date stamp is wrong.). They were growing almost all the way around the tree. The clump in the photo have leaves with a creamy stripe on the center of the leaves but the rest were solid green.
Early in the morning on December 18, 2009, I was on the Plant Delights website looking at the Aspidistra cultivars they offer. MAN, are some of them expensive! But it showed flowers! I never saw flowers! But it said they flower in the winter at ground level. Right then and there I took the flashlight and went to look. Sure enough, they had flowers! I was sure I took photos later of them opened up but maybe they are lost somewhere in all the folders. I will have to go back when I have time and look through four years of photos.
I had a lot of work to do in the backyard of the mansion, and I have lots of photos. A lot of the leaves on the Aspidistra were ragged with age and didn’t look all that well. SO, I mulled the idea in my mind to go through and remove all the old leaves. Then one Saturday I was listening to one of my favorite gardening radio shows and someone asked about cutting their Cast Iron Plants back. The host, a popular state horticulturalist (won’t give his name) told the guy he could cut them back with no problem. He said that the leaves you see have grown in one year… He said to cut all the leaves off and they would grow back in a year. SO, I thought GREAT! I can cut them back and they will grow back in no time… Well, I have to tell you that is almost false… Yes, they do grow back, but not as tall as they were in one year… OH, they did look much better though for sure!
These are probably the toughest plant I have ever ran across. Even tougher than the Iron Weed in the pasture. It is impossible to pull them up, almost as impossible to dig them up. They will even grow in the deepest shade where most plants will fail. They can even be grown as a houseplant in a dark corner. They get their name mainly because of their ability to tolerate a wide range of abuse and neglect.
They are hardy in USDA Zones 8-11, maybe depending on species. Some websites say 7-10. Well, maybe someday I will give them a try in 6a… Or maybe just keep them in pots…
If you are looking to purchase some of these plants, Plant Delights has some very nice selections.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.