Native to the Chatham Islands off the Pacific coast of New Zealand where it grows in forest margins, this evergreen herbaceous perennial forms large clumps of gently arching sword like leaves terminating in sharp points. The ridged leaves are silvery white on the top sides and white on the backsides. In the wild female plants produce stalks of greenish yellow flowers in spring that give way to orange berries but this rarely occurs in the garden. The foliage of the plant is the main attraction so no blooms in the garden is not tragedy. Although the silvery foliage suggests a Mediterranean environment, this plant prefers dappled shade and consistent moist. A. chathamica is very difficult to propagate; parent plants produce rosettes that can be detached in spring but both parents and rosettes dislike being disturbed so buying new plants is the best way to increase your supply. The species is sometimes sold as ‘Silver Spear’. A. chathamica makes a good container plant.
Type: Evergreen herbaceous perennial
Bloom: Greenish-yellow flowers in spring; of no horticultural interest
Size: 4’ H x 6.5’ W
Light: Dappled shade
Soil: Humusy, consistently moist, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 8-9
Care: Remove old leaves as they die
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Division of rosettes (see note above)
Companion plants: Ahuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’ and ‘Pink Surprise’; Ophiopogon planiscapis ‘Nigrescens’, Rhus cocbburnianus; Cyclamen hederifolium, C. coum.