Aspidistra elatior

Source: Nino Barbieri

Aspidistra elatior

Aspidistra elatior or Cast-Iron Plant was en vogue during the Victorian era. Brought to the UK in the 19th century, it soon revealed itself to be an extremely though plant and could be found in every Victorian parlour in a dark corner.

It has gone out of fashion but as fashions come and go, it is now available at nurseries.

It is an excellent houseplant for beginners as it is extremely resistant to neglect, temperatures down to -5 °C and poor light.

There is a variegated form, Aspidistra elatior variegata, and a dwarf form, Aspidistra elatior minor.


The plant is a rhizomatous perennial with dark green, glossy, lanceolate leaves of 30–50 cm long. The leaves appear basally, on a long petiole of about 1/3 of the leaf length.

The flowers are fleshy, 8-lobed, dull brown with purplish interior. They flower in early summer. You will probably not even notice them as they appear at ground level. To me, they look somewhat like the eggs from Alien, when they open.


Common names:

Bar room plant, cast-iron plant


Aspidistra lurida, Aspidistra punctata var. albomaculata, Aspidistra variegata, Plectogyne elatior, Plectogyne variegata


Aspidistra: from the Greek aspis (shield) and astron (star)
Elatior: from the Latin elatus (elevated)


Japan, Taiwan


Understory plant in forests


USDA zone 7-11

Aspidistra elatior flower

Source: Andel Früh

Aspidistra elatior flower



Commercial potting soil, well drained


Light, partial shade, shade. Although it tolerates shade, it will grow better with a little more light.


Water moderately during growing season and allow the soil dry out between waterings. Overwatering may lead to the apparition of fungi which will cause brown spots on the leaves.


Universal liquid fertilizer, every two weeks during growth period, nothing in winter.


Room temperature, min. -5 °C


As the leaves gather dust, they may be washed or sponged with clear water. The dust does not harm the plants, it just looks ugly.


Growth is very slow, repotting needs to be done every 2-3 years in spring


By division when repotting.

  • each piece of rhizome should have at least 2 leaves
  • do not feed newly propagated plants. Start feeding the following spring when growth resumes