Answer: Tetrapanax papyiferus, or rice paper plant, is a thicket-forming evergreen shrub or small tree with huge (10-15" across), long-petioled, palmately lobed leaves (5-11 toothed lobes) that are densely white-pubescent, and felt-like beneath. The individual shrub can reach 15' tall with a similar spread, but a thicket can cover much more area. The flowers are white wooly balls arranged in large conspicuous panicles up to 3' long and standing out beyond the foliage. They appear in autumn and are followed by clusters of spherical black berries, each about an eighth of an inch in diameter. The cultivar, 'Variegata', has dark green leaves variegated with cream or white.
Rice paper plant is native to southern China and Taiwan and is grown for its attractive large, fan-shaped leaves. Use it in a sheltered location because it is susceptible to damage from wind. Provide light shade and water regularly during the growing season. Hardy in USDA Zones 7 - 11. In zones 7-9 rice paper plant dies to the ground in winter and sprouts back in spring.
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