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Aspidistra elatior - Blume.

Common Name Aspidistra, Cast Iron Plant
Family Convallariaceae
USDA hardiness 7-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats An understory plant, found growing in forests beneath Ardisia crenata and Castanopsis sieboldii[266].
Range E. Asia - Japan - Kuroshima, Suwanose, and Uji Islands.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Aspidistra elatior Aspidistra, Cast Iron Plant

Aspidistra elatior Aspidistra, Cast Iron Plant


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Bloom Color: Brown, Purple. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late winter. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Aspidistra elatior is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from January to April. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Slugs, snails.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. lurida. A. punctata.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Febrifuge  Styptic  Tonic  Urinary

The roots, stems and leaves are febrifuge, styptic and tonic. Strengthens bones and muscles[147]. A decoction of the root, stems or leaves is used in the treatment of abdominal cramps, amenorrhoea, diarrhoea, myalgia, traumatic injuries and urinary stones[147, 218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

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Other Uses

Aspidistras can be grown as a ground cover in a shady position[188].

Special Uses

Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Specimen, Woodland garden. Prefers a shady position in a rich well-drained soil[200]. Tolerates poor soils and drought[200]. Almost hardy in Britain[1], plants can withstand temperatures down to about -15°c if they are well sited[200]. A plant growing under shrubs in Worcestershire has survived in the garden for over 30 years[233]. This plant used to be commonly grown as a house plant, it tolerates considerable neglect[200]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least their first winter in the greenhouse. Plant them out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division as the plant comes into growth in the spring[200]. Suckers. Best removed in the autumn and grown on in the greenhouse for the first winter.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

ann andrews   Tue Oct 10 2006

It would have been nice to see a few different varieties

Debbie King   Mon Dec 11 2006

Where can I buy one? Debbie King

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Sun Dec 17 2006

For suppliers in Britain, visit the Plant Finder at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp.

drc   Wed Jul 9 2008

Aspidistra is now placed in the Ruscaceae not Convallariaceae. Aspidistra lurida Ker-Gawl is not a synonym of A. elatior, it is a distict species. Aspidistra lurida Hort. is a synonym of A. elatior. The native range of A. elatior is Japan only; specifically the island groups mentioned above. I agree A. elatior is inedible but how can it have a rating of 0 on a scale of 1-5? 1 is inedible but 0 is really inedible? Shades of Spinal Tap! Saying that A. elatior is hardy to (USDA) zone 7 implies it tolerates an annual average minimum temperature of -17.7C to -12.3C. If this were true it would be hardy throughout the UK (including the Scottish Highlands) and its reputed survival in a Worcestershire garden for over 30 years would be completely unexceptional. In other words it is nonsense to say that it is hardy to (USDA) zone 7. It is hardy in zone 8 with protection. How can A. elatior "prefer" every known soil type? It prefers a fertile, well drained loamy soil a little on the alkaline side but will tolerate other soils. It does not "require" dry or moist soils. It prefers moist soils but is drought tolerant. It is a myth that slugs and snails pollinate A. elatior. Tiny terrestrial arthropods called collembolans are responsible. Seed would a feasible method of propagating Aspidistra elatior but it is not available comercially and plants very rarely fruit in cultivation so the information provided is irrelevant. Plants are propagated by rhizome division in the spring. The comment about "suckers" (not produced by Aspidistra) is wrong and irrelevant.

   Wed Oct 21 2009

Aspidistra elatior I have a plant that is over 56 years old!

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