Known as bog rhubarb or giant butterbur, this magnificent plant grows at the edge of the little pond at the home of Jeffrey Farrell and Bruno Boussier in Ashfield, MA. Patasites japonicus is a shade and moisture-loving perennial that spreads rapidly via rhizomes. In early spring the cheerful inflorescence appear, each made up of clusters of pale light-green and white flowers surrounded by light-green bracts. Seemingly stemless and sitting directly on the soil they present a curious sight. These succulent flowers and stems are used in Japanese dishes and are known as fuki.
New leaves are particularly beautiful as they begin to unfurl into specimens that look unreal in their shape and size adding stark contrast to the more finely textured plants in the garden. By the end of summer they are a sea of green that almost hides the pond, making it a favorite and cool hiding place for frogs, salamanders, newts, big and small children.