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Rohdea japonica is often confused with:
Hosta Hosta spp.
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Pulmonaria longifolia 'Trevi Fountain' Calyxes - Wake Co., NC
Danae racemosa Growing in dry shade- full plant summer
Dryopteris erythrosora Dryopteris erythrosora

Rohdea japonica

Previously known as:

  • Orontium japonicum
  • Tupistra japonica
Phonetic Spelling
ROH-dee-uh juh-PON-ih-kuh
Description

The Japanese Sacred lily is a tropical-looking evergreen herbaceous perennial that has an upright, clumping, and vase-like form.  It is slow growing and reaches a height and width of 2 feet. The leaves are thick, rubbery, and rich green, and they measure from 1 to 1.5 feet long and 2 to 3 inches wide. It has insignificant flowers, but they produce bright red berries that persist into the winter to add interest to the landscape. It is a member of the Asparagaceae or asparagus family.

This plant is native to moist woodlands and grassy slopes in China and Japan. It is a highly prized and cherished plant in Japan where it has been cultivated for over 500 years. It is a "good fortune" plant and is frequently given as a housewarming or birthday gift. There are over 600 cultivars registered in Japan.

The genus name, Rohdea, translates from Chinese as "10,000 years green" and is symbolic of multiplying good luck or good fortune. The epithet, japonica, means "of Japan."

It is best planted in well-drained, rich, loamy soil, and partial to full shade. They thrive in dry shade. This plant is resistant to heavy shade, deer browsing, and drought. and black walnut. The plant is evergreen in zones 6 to 10, but in colder climates, the foliage will die back during the winter. They are best propagated by division since they are so slow growing. Clumps can be divided when they get too large, or new plants can be grown from seed if started in a greenhouse. 

Japanese Sacred Lily looks great planted in border fronts, rock gardens, containers, woodlands as a ground cover, or in a massed planting under a shade tree. Consider this plant in dry, shaded areas under trees for added interest in the landscape. 

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage:  Year-round in zones 6 through 10       Fruits:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • shade-loving, evergreen groundcover, herbaceous perennial with an upright, vase-shaped, clumping habit, up to 2 feet tall and wide
  • thick, rubbery, dark green, lanceolate leaves measuring 1 to 1.5 feet long and 2 to 3 inches wide
  • tiny insignificant whitish-green flowers during the summer
  • bright red berries in the fall and winter

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: There are no known insect pests. The only disease reported is a fungal infection known as Colletotrichum liriope which is treated by removing the infected portions and treating them with an antifungal spray.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Border Garden- Pathway Shaded Slope Border Garden- Pathway
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Godaishu'
  • 'Gunjaku'
    Thick evergreen leaves with creamy white border
  • 'Herbie'
    Narrow white band on leaves
  • 'Kin cho ju'
  • ‘Miyako-no-Hana’
    Irregular green creamy blotched pattern
  • ‘Shiro Botan’
    Long thick green leaves arching with banding and white blotches
'Godaishu', 'Gunjaku', 'Herbie', 'Kin cho ju', ‘Miyako-no-Hana’, ‘Shiro Botan’
Tags:
#drought tolerant#easy to grow#slow growing#winter interest#slopes#rabbit resistant#mass planting#showy fruits#deer resistant#herbaceous perennials#red fruits#groundcover#clumping#evergreen groundcover#dry soils tolerant#winter fruits#tropical feel#black walnut toxicity tolerant#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden#container plant#dry shade#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Godaishu'
  • 'Gunjaku'
    Thick evergreen leaves with creamy white border
  • 'Herbie'
    Narrow white band on leaves
  • 'Kin cho ju'
  • ‘Miyako-no-Hana’
    Irregular green creamy blotched pattern
  • ‘Shiro Botan’
    Long thick green leaves arching with banding and white blotches
'Godaishu', 'Gunjaku', 'Herbie', 'Kin cho ju', ‘Miyako-no-Hana’, ‘Shiro Botan’
Tags:
#drought tolerant#easy to grow#slow growing#winter interest#slopes#rabbit resistant#mass planting#showy fruits#deer resistant#herbaceous perennials#red fruits#groundcover#clumping#evergreen groundcover#dry soils tolerant#winter fruits#tropical feel#black walnut toxicity tolerant#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden#container plant#dry shade#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rohdea
    Species:
    japonica
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Japan
    Distribution:
    Introduced: Korea
    Play Value:
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits appear at the base of the plant as short stalks of showy red berries and may persist through the fall and winter months.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Insignificant
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Tiny whitish-green insignificant flowers bloom in late summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rubbery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are simple, dark green, lanceolate, thick, rubbery, arching with entire margins. They measure 1 to 1.5 feet long and 2 to 3 inches wide.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Fairy Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heavy Shade
    Rabbits