Rodgersia sambucifolia
Common Name: elderberry rodgersia 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Creamy white to pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Best grown in rich, acidic, humusy, consistently moist soils in part shade. Tolerates full sun only in cool summer climates. Leaf margins may brown up if soils are allowed to dry out. Also tolerates full shade. Thrives in wet, boggy soils. Deadhead spent flower stalks after bloom. Propagate by division or seed. Plants will spread by creeping rhizomes to form colonies over time. Site plants in locations sheltered from strong winds to protect the large leaves from possible wind damage. Plants should also be sited in areas where they will have room to spread. Apply winter mulch in the colder northern regions of this plant's growing area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rodgersia sambucifolia is commonly called elderberry rodgersia because its pinnately compound dark green leaves resemble those of elderberry (Sambucus). Each leaf features 3-11 sharply-toothed, oblong to lanceolate leaflets (each leaflet to 8" long). This is a bold, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial that is native to moist forests and meadows in southwestern China. Apetalous, creamy white to pink flowers bloom in dense, branched, astilbe-like flower spikes rising above the foliage mound to 4' tall in July. Although the flowers are ornamentally significant, it is the large leaves that primarily attract gardeners to this plant. This is a substantial perennial that typically forms a spreading foliage mound to 2-3' tall and as wide. It will naturalize over time by thick rhizomes.

Genus name honors Rear-Admiral John Rodgers (1812-1882), distinguished American naval officer who commanded in 1852-1856 a Pacific expedition during which the first species of this genus was discovered.

Specific epithet means having foliage like the genus Sambucus.


No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs, snails may chew on the foliage. Watch for powdery mildew.


Excellent foliage plant for moist garden sites. Best naturalized in part shade areas with consistent soil moisture. Grows well in moist woodland gardens, bog gardens, water garden peripheries or along stream banks. Can be effectively grown in the back of the border as long as soil moisture requirements can be met.