Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Persicaria Polymorpha

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Persicaria polymorpha flower (09/06/2011, London)

Persicaria polymorpha flower (09/06/2011, London)

Position: Flourishes in full sun, full to partial shade.

Soil: Moist and well drained.

Flowering period: Summer to early autumn.

Eventual Height: 2m

Eventual Spread:  3m

Hardiness: USDA Zone 5a-9b

Family: Polygonaceae

Persicaria polymorpha is a deciduous perennial with an upright, clump forming habit. Its foliage is lanceolate, mid to dark green leaves with lateral venation, emanating from a central midrib and are borne on red stems. Its inflorescence is long lasting and takes the form of monoecious, creamy white panicles which will become a reddish-brown in autumn.

P. polymorpha, commonly known as the Great White Fleece Flower or the Giant Fleece Flower, is native to China, Korea and Japan. It is closely related to the highly invasive Japanese Knotweed but is not known as an invasive plant; however some reports claim it has become so in parts of America. The foliage is edible but contains oxalic acid (found in rhubarb, Rheum spp.) which can bind nutrients in the body making them unavailable for uptake in the body.

Persicaria was a medieval name referring to the likeness of the leaves to a peach tree, Prunus persica, with polymorpha being derived from the Latin meaning ‘Many forms’.

Persicaria polymorpha (09/06/2011, London)

Persicaria polymorpha (09/06/2011, London)

This plant may be useful to the landscape architect as a low maintenance long flowering large perennial. As it has not been widely grown in the UK not much information is available on how it will deal with our climate, although the specimen shown in this blog is thriving.

This plant will tolerate almost any soil conditions; it will be happy in acid, neutral or alkaline pH levels, in loam, sand, chalk or clay based soils in a sheltered or exposed location facing any aspect.

This plant will not have a large positive ecological impact as it is not native to this continent and as such has no established symbiotic relationships or organisms, which prefer it as a habitat.

Maintenance: Requires no maintenance. Dead material may be cut back to the ground in late autumn or winter. This plant may be divided in spring.

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