Monday, December 13, 2010

Focus on Fatsia

Fatsia polycarpa (centre)
 One of the staple plants to many British Exotic Gardens is Fatsia japonica, a glossy large leafed araliad from Japan. It is quite a tough and hardy plant with interesting foliage and flowers. There are several variegated varieties which are also reasonably hardy. Whist F. japonica is the most well known Fatsia, it is not the only member of the genus. Fatsia is a small genus with two other members, F. polycarpa and F. oligocarpella.

F. Polycarpa, native to Taiwan, is almost as hardy as F. Japonica and is an extremely ornamental and garden worthy plant, with often deaply lobed leaves.

Fatsia polycarpa leaf shape
All Fatsias have quite variable leaf forms and so it is worth ensuring that you select a plant with the leaf form you prefer. In the UK there are two readily available forms of F. polycarpa, Crug Farms collection and a separate collection by Edward Needham, (Crug Form and Edward Needham Form, respectively).

Edward Needham was widely regarded as collecting the most interesting and unique forms of a plant, looking for the best available form, and F. polycarpa Edward Needham form is no exception. To my eyes this particular plant is well worth tracking down fo its deeply lobed leaf shape.

Fatsia japonica has several different varieties available to the exotic gardener in the UK, other than the plain green form. Whilst the other types often have more dramatic colours the plain green is very robust and seems to be quicker and maybe slightly hardier.
Fatsia japonica 'Spiders Web'
Fatsia japonica 'Annelise'

Fatsia japonica 'Annelise' in flower

Fatsia japonica 'Variegata'

Fatsia japonica 'Spiders Web' with an unusual "snake skin" variegation,
Fatsia japonica  'Moseri'
Crug farm have an online shop
The Edward Needham form of F. polycarpa can be tracked down at Lower Keneggy Nurseries in Cornwall.


  1. A great plant profile of a great plant. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Excellent post, I find Fatsia invaluable, Fatsia japonica provides backbone to the garden all year and really comes in to it's own now. Never come across polycarpa or 'Spider's Web' before, both looks lovely, but sadly don't have room for another. Two more for the wishlist!

  3. I was very glad to find this article since F. japonica is one of my favorites. I have three of them. Every winter, one of them get hit by cold and winds, and I wait for the spring to see if it survived. So far, I was lucky. Such a tough plant! I lost my Spider Web fatsia while we went on vacation one year, and a teenager overwatered it. I haven't found another one so far. Thank you for your article and great pictures!

  4. Very interesting article. The timing is fortuitous: I just bought a Fatsia japonica 'Variegata' for a large pot :-).

  5. I agree, Fatsia is an invaluable plant, evergreen and provides structure and backbone t a garden.

    There's always room for another Fatsia :) Just wield the secateur if needed be.

    Tatyana, you can possibly buy another Spiders Web at in the US :)

  6. Interesting post on Fatsia. I have been continually amazed to find that this plant is remarkably wind-tolerant on the central coast of Oregon. Some of our most windy landscapes feature mature specimens of this plant, usually with just a little shelter, where other "coastal" plants have perished. One place that's a bit more inland features an entire sheared hedge of this plant!

  7. Love the varieties of foliage, make any garden rich with their lush colour and unique shapes.

  8. What a great collection of Fatsias!
    When I began planting my California garden I admit to having looked down my nose at Fatsia japonica because it was ubiquitous round here. But I did plant it: Having to move it three times before I found a perfect spot where I came to appreciate it's form and presence.
    Some ten years later, it died! And I've never been sure why. Surely it's a fool-proof plant:-(
    'Spider's Web' is a real stunner.....

  9. Thanks for the lovely comments :)

    I do like the idea of a Fatsia hedge. They are such unfussy plants and grows on virtually any aspect, with preference for shade.

    Spider's Web is a stunner indeed :)

  10. Hi,

    You have amazing plant, the 'variegate' is very rare. It's make your garden so unique.

  11. Nice post and I liked Fatsia japonica 'Annelise' and I am going to add it to my garden north shore . It is a great plant to have in your garden.


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