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More Information About Tupistra

Tupistra is a rare and obscure genus of 14 species of shade plants native to India, China, and southeast Asia that was discovered by European botanists in 1814 and brought into cultivation. Mallet flower is related to liriope, rohdea and aspidistra and resembles them in form with its clump of dark, stiff, evergreen leaves rising from a thick rhizome. In early spring mallet flower plants are topped with a tightly packed white, purple, or orange flower cluster that is reminiscent of a small eucomis. In early summer, tupistra flowers give way to a flush of new leaves and stoloniferous offsets. The name tupistra comes from the Greek "tupis" which means "mallet" and refers to the shape of the pollen-bearing structure of the flower. According to Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker in his "Himalayan Journals of 1854", the local inhabitants of the Sikkim region of India mixed mallet flower leaves ("Purphiok" in the local language) with tobacco and smoked the mixture in a hookah.

In cultivation, tupistra prefers a habitat similar to aspidistra...part shade to shade with moist, well-drained soil. Although tupistra plants are generally from warm climates, we have found a few selections from mountainous locales to be cold tolerant in our Raleigh garden. Like its cousin aspidistra, tupistra is primarily a foliage plant and looks good when combined with fine textured plants like ferns and colorful plants like calanthe, cypripedium, heuchera or cyclamen. Mallet flower also makes a good houseplant. Tupistra is an esoteric genus and makes a wonderful gift for the gardener who already has one of everything else. When you are ready to buy tupistra for your garden, check out our online selection of tupistra for sale.