the gates of hell

the gates of hell
The Gates of Hell

Monday, January 30, 2017

"It's Alive!"

The T-Rex (Tetrapanax papyrifer) has been through a lot this past year, and so have I. It woke from hibernation in early March 2016, with new growth at the tops of surviving stalks, maybe 5-6 feet high. (I got this plant in fall 2013, and the first 2 winters, the stalks died back to the ground.)

It proceeded to grow rapidly through spring and summer.
  By September, T-Rex was above the roofline.
  Also by September, buds were forming--so exciting! The first buds I'd seen on this plant!
  The buds stretched out, and emerged above the foliage in mid-October.

In November, I thought for sure it would bloom against all odds (pretty pretty please), since there was still no freeze in sight...
But the inflorescence just kept stretching out and developing--a very slow process. Perhaps slowed further than normal for this plant by the lack of heat here in November. The photo below is from December 1st--could flowers beat the freeze?
No, they could not. None of the buds opened. The inflorescence drooped over, dropping failed flower buds to the ground in a slow sad drip. So sad, too bad.
But today, in late January, there are still green leaves at the top of each stalk (12'-15' up in the air--some are hidden under the drooping buds on the stalk to the right), that I imagine will get an even earlier start this year. Maybe flowers this December? One can only hope. But can I let it continue to grow so tall? Will I regret not topping it? Curiosity will probably make me leave these stalks alone to see what happens. I will also leave some of the inevitable new root-based stalks to grow up from ground level, in case these tall stalks topple from their own weight and winds later this year.


  1. Do you still have green leaves on top of your tetrapanax? I did but mine all turned brown.

    1. Like yours, those green leaves have since turned brown and dropped off, but I do have brand new leaves emerging at the very top of all 3 stalks. The very tallest stalk looks suspiciously black near the top though, so I'm not sure if it will eventually flop over/die back to a lower height?