By Nikki Phipps
Unusual looking but beautiful, Paris polyphylla plants are hard to top in the garden. In fact, growing Paris flowers may just spawn many a topic of conversation by passers-by. Read on for more Paris plant info.
Paris Plant Info
Paris flower (Paris polyphylla) is an interesting little Asian woodland bulb, widespread across China and related to Trilliums. Like their better known cousin the Trillium, they have leaves in a single whorl below a flower in two whorls.
As the name suggests, Paris species in the garden are exotic plants with an amazing flowering characteristic. The genus name, Paris, is not derived from the French city, however, but from the word pars, referring to the symmetry of the plant.
In olden times growing Paris flowers were much esteemed and used in medicine, but today its use is almost confined to homoeopathy. While it’s not commonly offered, this odd and beautiful plant makes a great conversation piece in the garden.
The simple, yet smooth, upright stem reaches about a foot high and crowned near its top center, with four pointed leaves, rises a solitary greenish-white, spring-blooming flower. The individual flowers are very long-lived, lasting for up to 3 months.
Once flowering has ceased, it produces a single berry and, when ripe, it eventually splits to discharge its seeds. As there is only a single flower, turning into a single red berry in autumn, this remarkable plant has also been referred to as the ‘one berry’ plant.
Growing Paris Species in the Garden
Paris makes a perfect understory planting and fascinating specimen plant. Paris is produced through rhizomes and adapted to damp, partially shaded areas, preferring deciduous woods. Paris can be easily grown in a moist, humus-rich soil typical to woodland conditions.
- P. japonica, also called canopy plant (a reference to the umbrella-like ceremonial canopy held over the emperor in former times), is native to open woods in the mountains of Northern Japan. This species has a large, showy white flower that is followed by a purple berry.
- Another interesting Paris species is P. tetraphylla (opposite feather flower). This Japanese native woodlander is topped by a whorled flower made of green outer petals and slender, feathery-like inner petals that match the yellow stamens.
- P. quadrifolia, or herb paris, has four leaves in two opposite pairs and whorled yellow-green flowers succeeded by a dark blue berry. This species is native to much of Europe and Asia, including Russia (Siberia), Mongolia and China.
All growing Paris species in the garden are clump-forming and look amazing when planted in masses. Plants are very slow to flower from seed; therefore, if you are lucky enough to have these extraordinary Paris polyphylla plants or other species growing in your garden, it may be wise to propagate them by dividing their rhizomes and then replanting elsewhere.