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The Botannaca Blog

Plant Education, Garden Inspiration,

Creative Endeavors, Mostly Wonder...

  • Writer's pictureAnna

Astilboides tabularis

Astilboides tabularis. Now that’s a mouthful! Some refer to it as Shield plant or Bog plant, but I rarely hear it called that. And, maybe that is because I rarely see it.

I first noticed this plant at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee, WI. That was in 2002 when it was still called Rodgersia, but has since been put in a class of it’s own. This dramatic plant stopped me in my tracks with it’s large, showy, round leaves.

I saw it again last year on a garden tour where the 10th person I asked could finally tell me what it was. It’s name had completely escaped me.

When we visited the property where we now live, it was at the end of the growing season, and it had turned a golden brown color, but maintained the same showy form and curious growth habit that made it recognizable. The stems attach directly in the center of the leaf and hold it up like a table top. This spring, I was happy to find it growing very appropriately next to the pond, as moisture and part shade are necessary for it to thrive. It’s emergence was just as intriguing as it’s full growth.

Astilboides tabularis emerging

As the leaf unfolds, it rotates upward.

Astilboides tabularis leaf unfolding

It looks kind of jurassic to me, and certainly not like it would grow in the Midwest. But, it is happy in zone 5, as long as it stays moist. It colonizes, but in a polite way, I haven’t found any evidence of it getting out of hand.

Here is what it looks like a few weeks later

It will continue to grow, and ranges from 3-6′, depending on the conditions. In July, it sends up an Astilbe-looking white flower plume. I’ll add a photo when it shows itself!

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