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Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona'

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Kemper Code:  D800

Common Name: leopard plant
Zone: 3 to 8
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: None
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Spread: 1.5 to 2.5 feet
Bloom Time: June - July   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Yellow-orange
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Best grown in rich, humusy, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Must have moist soils that never dry out. Benefits from a regular, deep watering in hot summers. Needs a shaded location in the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

This leopard plant cultivar is an imposing, clump-forming perennial with a mounded habit which is grown as much for its dark colored foliage as for its flowers. Features huge, leathery, toothed, long-petioled, heart-shaped, basal leaves (up to 1' wide). New leaves emerge purplish-red, but mature to brownish-green on top and purplish beneath. Yellow-orange, daisy-like flowers (2-4" across) appear in summer in loose-branched corymbs atop thick, mostly leafless stems rising above the foliage to 3' (infrequently to 4') tall. Petioles, veins, flower stalks and lower leaf surfaces of this cultivar are distinctively reddish-purple. This cultivar is very similar to and somewhat difficult to distinguish from Ligularia dentata 'Othello', except it is slightly larger and produces slightly larger flowers. Closely related to and formerly included in the genus Senecio.


No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails are often attracted to the foliage. Even with adequate soil moisture, leaf wilting may occur in hot summer climates (foliage droops in afternoons with recovery at night), particularly when the plant is exposed to too much sun.


Group or mass in moist or wet areas of shade or woodland gardens, or along streams, ponds, pools or bog gardens. Good plant for a shady area on the north side of a house. Can be grown in a shaded area of the border if the soil moisture requirements can be met. Grow with interrupted fern (Osmunda claytonia) or Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii) which share the same general cultural requirements.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

More photos:
Photo: Walters Gardens, Inc.
High resolution image available.