Native to China, Japan. Large plants with imposing leaves and clustered tiny flowers in plumes somewhat like those of astilbe; bloom in early to midsummer. Primary feature is handsome foliage, which often takes on bronze tones in late summer. Plants spread by thick rhizomes, need rich soil. The various species hybridize freely. Dormant in winter; provide winter mulch in cold climates. Showy in moist woodland or bog gardens.
R. aesculifolia. FINGERLEAF RODGERSIA. To 6 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide. Leaves are divided like fingers of a hand into five to seven tooth-edged, 10-in. leaflets; they are similar to those of horsechestnut (Aesculus). Shaggy brown hairs on flower stalks, leaf stems, major leaf veins. White flowers.
R. pinnata. FEATHERLEAF RODGERSIA. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. To 4 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Leaves have five to nine 8-in. leaflets. Red flowers. 'Chocolate Wing' foliage is chocolate, bronze, and dark green, with red flowers; 'Fireworks' foliage has red-tinged edges, pink-red flowers; 'Superba' has bronze-tinted foliage that gives rise to bright pink flowers.
R. podophylla. To 5 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide. Coppery green leaves divided into five 10-in.-long leaflets. Creamy flowers. 'Rotlaub' has burgundy and green, cupped leaves.
R. sambucifolia. To 3 ft. high and wide. Leaves have up to 11 leaflets. Flat-topped clusters of white or pink flowers.