Ligularia dentata
Common Name: leopard plant
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: China, Japan
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Wet Soil

Culture

Best grown in humusy, organically rich, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Must have moist soils that never dry out. Benefits from a regular, deep watering in hot summers. Foliage will wilt in too much sun. Needs a shaded location in the St. Louis area. Site plants in areas protected from strong winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to China and Japan, leopard plant is an imposing, clump-forming perennial that is grown in gardens as much for its foliage as for its flowers. Its best ornamental feature may be the foliage which consists of huge, long-stalked, leathery, rounded, cordate-based, dark green leaves (12” or more long) that form a basal clump to 3-4’ tall. Daisy-like, orange-yellow flowers (2-3” across) with brownish-yellow centers bloom in loose corymbs atop thick, mostly leafless stalks that rise above the foliage in early summer. Several excellent cultivars with purple stems and purple lower leaf surfaces (‘Desdemona’ and ‘Othello’) are commonly sold. Sometimes commonly called big leaf ligularia. Synonymous with and formerly known as Senecio clivorum.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails can significantly damage the foliage. Even with adequate moisture, leaf wilting usually occurs in hot summer climates, particularly when the plant is exposed to too much sun.

Garden Uses

Group or mass in moist or wet areas of shade or woodland gardens, borders, or along streams, ponds, pools or bog gardens. This is a good plant for a shady area on the north side of a house. Grow with interrupted fern (Osmunda claytonia) or Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii) which share the same general cultural requirements. Allan Armitage maintains that the flowers of this plant detract from the foliage effect, and suggests that gardeners have the option of removing flower stalks as they form before bloom.