Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Rodgersia Pinnata ‘Superba’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' (17/09/2011, London)

Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' (17/09/2011, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Late summer

Soil: Moist 

Eventual Height: 1.2m

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4a-7b

Family: Saxifragaceae

Rodgersia pinnata ‘Superba’ is a deciduous herbaceous perennial with an architectural habit. It has smoothly textured foliage which is bronze in Spring then turns green in summer and autumn. The large leaves emerge from thick rhizomes, are textured and have a distinctive pinkish-bronze coloring when young. This plant has the most diverse leaf form of any of the Rodgersia species. The leaves range from pseudo-pinnate, being bunched at 2/5 at the petiole and 3 at the apex with varying numbered pairs of leaflets with varied lengths. The leaves are roughly 20 mm x 10 mm long and are lanceolate to obovate. The flowers of the variety ‘Superba‘ are bright pink. They tiny flowers appear appear from deep red buds in the form of tall feathery plumes well above the foliage. The subsequent seed heads range from green through to deep mahogany, allowing for general winter interest. 

R. pinnata, commonly known as Rodgersia or Featherleaf Rodgersia, is native to eastern Asia. The genus was designated by the American taxonomist, A.Gray, in 1885, who named it after the U.S Admiral, John Rodgers, commander of the expedition in which R. podophylla was discovered, in the 1850′s. It originates from the Island of Honshu in Japan and Korea. It resides along stream-ways, and in shady, moist woodland. The plant is popular due to its architectural growth habit.

Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' flower (17/09/2011, London)

Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' flower (17/09/2011, London)

The name Rodgersia is named after the Admiral who led the 1850′s expedition, in which this genus was discovered.  Pinnata is derived from the Latin meaning ‘feathered’ or ‘winged’ in reference to the leaf arrangement.

The landscape architect may find this plant useful as a accent plant in a herbaceous planting scheme due to its architectural habit. It is particularly good for moist habitats around pounds and lakes.  It also would suit a wildflower planting scheme.

Ecologically this plant is attractive to slugs. 

This plant prefers soils which are moist. It can tolerate heavy clay soils. It will tolerated all soil pH.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given their prestigious Award of Garden Merit 1993.

Maintenance: This plant requires little maintenance. Large clumps of this plant  may be divided in late autumn or spring, during the dormant season.

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