From China. Fast growing to 1015 feet tall and wide; often multitrunked. Big, bold, long- stalked leaves are 12 feet wide, deeply lobed, gray-green above, white and felted beneath, carried in clusters at ends of stems. Fuzz on new growth can irritate eyes or skin. Tan trunks often curve or lean. Big, branched clusters of creamy white flowers on furry tan stems appear in winter. Flowers are followed by small, round, black fruit.
Young plants sunburn easily; older ones adapt. Easy to grow. Seems to suffer only from high winds, which break or tatter leaves, and from frostfoliage is severely damaged at 22F (however, it recovers fast and often puts up suckers to form thickets). Digging around roots stimulates sucker formation; suckers may arise 20 feet from parent plant. Use this old Southern favorite for silhouette against walls, on patios; combines well with other sturdy, bold-leafed plants for a tropical effect. Name comes from the thick pith of the stems, which is used to make Chinese rice paper.