A panda in your garden
A little botany
The Asarum genus belongs to the Aristolachiaceae family and has more than seventy species that are mainly native to East Asia. There is only one species endemic to the European continent: Asarum... europaeum. All the species have glossy, marbled leaves (like cyclamen) and rhizomatous roots. They are undergrowth plants, so prefer moist, humus-rich soils.
Asarum maximum was discovered by the intrepid Irish botanist and sinologist Augustine Henry (1857-1930) in the gorges of the Yangtze. It was described and named in 1890 by English botanist William Botting Hemsley (1843-1924). The species is native to the forests of Hubei and Sichuan (China) where it grows in humus-rich soil at 600 m to 800 m in altitude.
Asarum maximum 'Giant' forms a clump of shiny, marbled, evergreen foliage and produces a surprising spring flowering from the base of the plant: a bunch of violet-black flowers with prominent white eyes. Panda Face Ginger!
Although this plant is slow to establish itself, it will form a small ground cover over the years thanks to its fine rhizomatous roots.
In the garden, we like to grow this exceptional plant under deciduous trees, or preferably conifers, in moist, light soil, enriched with rough compost in the spring.
You will, however, be able to enjoy the flowers more fully if you plant it in pots or an alpine greenhouse. To do this, the planting medium will be similar to what you use for orchids: a mix of rough bark, pine needles, mature compost and rough sand, with a little garden soil thrown in for good measure!
- Protect the young leaves from slugs and snails in the spring.
- Apply a generous mulch of mature compost in late winter.
- Keep a watchful eye on your panda in the summer!
Curtis's Botanical Magazine - London (1896)
- 0,7 litre pot
- Hardiness zones : zone 7-10
- Height: 10 to 30cm
- Plant spacing: 40 cm
- Flower colour: black
- Flowering period: spring flowers