Aspidistra elatior


Aspidistra elatior Blume – Tijdschr. Natuurl. Gesch. Physiol. 1: 76, t. 4. (1834).


Aspidistra elatior subsp. cephalostigma N. Tanaka





Aspidistra lurida Hort.;

Aspidistra punctata var. albomaculata Hook., Bot. Mag. 89: t. 5386 (1863);

Plectogyne variegata Link in Allgemeine Gartenzeitung;

Aspidistra insularis H.-J. Tillich in Feddes Repertorium




China, Japan, Korea.


Flowers in November–Decembe and March–April in cultivation, in February–March in nature.































Herb glabrous, evergreen, perennial. Rhizome monopodial, repent, terete or subterete, 1–2 cm in diameter with many scars, apical part elongating annually by 2–3.5 cm and producing one leaf. Roots fibrous, stout, white, 1.5–3 mm in diameter. Scaly leaves (cataphylls) on the apical part of rhizome several, varying in size, fugacious, longest one subulate up to 20 cm long and 3 cm wide. Leaves evergreen, persistent for three or more years, 55–110 cm long including the petiole; petiole (sub)terete, straight, stiff, adaxially canaliculate, 18–56 cm long; blade narrowly oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic-oblanceolate, 33–60 cm long and 8–15 cm wide, inequilateral, base attenuate, margin entire, apex acuminate or acute, distally recurved, abaxial surface subglossy, adaxial surface glossy, mid-vein prominently keeled abaxially, lateral parallel veins impressed adaxially, raised abaxially. Peduncle hypogeous, (sub)terete, 1–7.5 cm long and 2.5–5 mm in diameter, white. Bracts (scales) on peduncle up to 8, white, often dispersed with numerous minute purple spots, (sub)scarious, distal 2 to 3 (sometimes 4) bracts borne close to the flower, uppermost bract adpressed to the bottom of the perianth tube, broadly ovate, multinerved, up to 1.5 cm long, and to 2.5 cm wide; lower bracts becoming smaller towards the base of peduncle. Flowers solitary on top of the peduncle, positioned at ground level often with the tubular part buried in soil or litter, antrorse, sessile, 4-merous (sometimes 5-merous). Perianth urceolate-campanulate, thick, fleshy, distally 8-cleft (sometimes 10-cleft), 2–3.7 cm across; externally smooth, off-white or pale purplish, dispersed with minute dark purple spots that become more distinct distally, dull (opaque); internally nearly smooth or slightly tuberculate; tube (sub)crateriform, slightly narrowed at the subbasal or middle portion to which stamens attach from the inside, (6–)8–12 mm high, internally whitish proximally, dark purple distally, intruded in the center of the bottom; segments 8 in 2 whorls, narrowly deltoid, 9–17 mm long, (6.8–)7.5–12 mm wide at base, recurved distally, apex subacute or obtuse, internal distal part often a pale dull yellow, proximal part dark purple, medial part with 2 longitudinal close ribs dilated below, submedial (or submarginal) part with 2 prominent lamellar fleshy keels dilated below and united proximally with those of the adjoining segments, proximal half of the segment 1.2–1.5 mm thick, except ribs and keels; inner segments involute laterally, imbricate proximally with adjoining outer segments; margins narrowly alate, subhyaline. Stamens 8; anther on a short protrusion (1.5–2 mm long) at the subbasal or middle portion of the perianth tube, position (2–)3–4 mm above bottom of tube and as high as ovary or style, introrse, elliptic, lunately arcuate, cream, 2.5 mm long when dry, 3–3.5(–4) mm long when moistened; pollen cream. Pistil 1, 4-carpellate, peltate, 7–9.5 mm high; ovary superior, ca. 1–2 mm long, ca. 4.5 mm across, 4-loculate; ovules usually 4–6 per locule, collateral on central marginal placentae (axile placentae); style subterete, white, somewhat indistinct from ovary, ca. 1–2 mm long (style-ovary column 2–4 mm long), ca. 4 mm in diameter; stigma discoid, frontal surface nearly flat, or centrally slightly convex or raised, dark purple, 13–19 mm across, consisting of 4 flabellate quarters (each corresponding to a carpel) conjugated laterally; 4 conjugated portions prominently ridged, forming cruciform configuration; distal margin of each quarter emarginate medially, emarginate portions inwardly ridged; margins usually recurved, adpressed or often partly adnate to the perianth tube except for 4 corners forming small openings coupled with the tube, 8-lobed, lobes 2–4.5 mm long, rounded, lowermost marginal portion usually as high as the distal part of the perianth tube or higher than the ovary and anthers; rear side of the stigma nearly horizontal or slightly ascending, white. Fruit a berry, globose, 2–3.5 cm across, smooth or tuberculate (tubercles to 1 mm high), green and stiff before maturity, becoming a pale dull yellowish brown, scent, somewhat soft at full maturity; sarcocarp fleshy, white, pale dull yellow or yellowish orange; requiring 16–18 months from anthesis to full ripening. Seeds 3–16 per fruit, coated with a pale dull yellowish fleshy testa, body sub-ovoid, somewhat distorted and irregular in shape, pale brown, up to 15.6 mm long, and 12 mm across.


Tanaka (2016) – Makinoa N.S. 11: 17-42.