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Elephant Ears

Bergenia crassifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, parks, roadsides, rocky places, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Nodding clusters of pink (sometimes white, red or purple) bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are borne on branched, erect stems. 10 stamens. 2 styles. The petals are overlapping. The flowers of Elephant's Ears are one-sided, unlike the almost identical-looking species Bergenia Cordifolia (which flowers slightly later in the year).
Elephant Ears do not produce traditional fruits. Instead, they are primarily grown for their attractive foliage and clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers, which can vary in color from pink to magenta, are borne on tall stalks and add to the ornamental appeal of the plant. While Elephant Ears are not cultivated for edible fruits, their vibrant flowers contribute to the plant's overall aesthetic value in garden settings.
A clump-forming perennial plant with thick, large, mid-green, leathery, round or heart-shaped leaves. The leaves all exist in a basal rosette. Commonly grown as a garden plant in the UK but can occasionally be found growing in the wild. Evergreen.
Elephant Ears are not typically known for having a strong or distinctive fragrance. The primary allure of these plants lies in their visually appealing features, such as large, thick leaves and clusters of bell-shaped flowers. While some plants are prized for their fragrant blooms, Elephant Ears are not renowned for a notable scent. Gardeners who appreciate visual aesthetics and hardy, low-maintenance plants often choose Elephant Ears for their ornamental value rather than any particular fragrance.
Other Names:
Badan, Elephant-eared Saxifrage, Elephant's Ear Saxifrage, Heartleaf Bergenia, Heart-leaved Bergenia, Korean Elephant's Ears, Leather Bergenia, Leatherleaf Bergenia, Mongolian Tea, Pigsqueak, Siberian Tea, Thick-leaved Bergenia, Winter-blooming Bergenia.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Bergenia crassifolia, also known as leatherleaf bergenia or thick-leaved bergenia, is a species of flowering plant in the saxifrage family. It is native to the Himalayas and is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for its attractive foliage and pink or purplish flowers. The leaves of Bergenia crassifolia are thick and leathery, and the plant produces clusters of flowers in the spring. It is a hardy plant that is resistant to drought and can tolerate cold temperatures, making it a good choice for gardens in cooler climates. Bergenia crassifolia is often used as a groundcover plant or in borders, and it is also suitable for growing in containers.


Elephant's Ears: The Fascinating Bergenia crassifolia

Bergenia crassifolia, also known as Elephant's Ears, is a species of flowering plant that is native to the cold regions of Asia and Eastern Europe. It's an attractive and hardy plant that is well-suited for gardens and landscapes, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who are looking for a versatile and low-maintenance option.

One of the most distinctive features of Elephant's Ears is its large, fleshy leaves. These leaves can grow up to a foot long and are usually an attractive shade of green, although they may also be a reddish-purple in certain light conditions. The leaves are also notably thick and rubbery, giving the plant its unique "elephant's ear" appearance.

In addition to its large leaves, Elephant's Ears is also known for its beautiful, delicate flowers. These flowers are typically pink or red, and they bloom in the late winter or early spring, adding a pop of color to gardens when other plants are still dormant. The flowers are also long-lasting and remain on the plant for several weeks, making Elephant's Ears an attractive choice for gardeners who want to enjoy their flowers for a longer period of time.

Elephant's Ears is also a tough plant that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. It's easy to care for, and it will grow well in most soils types, as long as the soil is well-draining. This makes Elephant's Ears an ideal choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance option, as it requires little to no maintenance once it is established.

One of the most important things to remember when growing Elephant's Ears is to plant it in a location that receives plenty of sun or partial shade. It will grow well in most soils, but it prefers a moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. If the soil is too dry or too alkaline, the leaves may yellow and the plant may not perform as well.

In addition to its ornamental value, Elephant's Ears also has a number of other uses. It's often used in traditional medicine for its medicinal properties, and it's also a popular plant for landscaping, due to its attractive appearance and tough, hardy nature.

One of the most important things to remember when growing Elephant's Ears is to give it enough space to spread out and grow. The plant will spread by rhizomes, which are underground stems that can grow quite extensive, so it's important to make sure that you provide the plant with enough space to spread out and establish itself.

Elephant's Ears is also a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that will provide year-round interest. The large, fleshy leaves remain green throughout the year, providing a backdrop of green foliage even when the plant is not in bloom. And when the delicate flowers do bloom, they add a pop of color to the garden, providing an attractive contrast against the green foliage.

If you're looking for a low-maintenance, attractive plant that will provide color and interest to your garden, Elephant's Ears is a great choice to consider. With its unique appearance, tough nature, and ability to grow in a variety of conditions, it's a plant that is sure to provide you with years of enjoyment.

Aside from its ornamental and medicinal uses, Elephant's Ears can also be used in landscaping to create an attractive, low-maintenance garden. It can be used as a groundcover, planted along walkways or paths, or as an accent plant in borders or rock gardens.

When designing your garden, it's important to keep in mind that Elephant's Ears will spread over time. This can be either a benefit or a drawback, depending on your desired garden design. If you want to control the spread of the plant, it's best to plant it in a contained area, such as a raised bed or a large container.

If you're interested in using Elephant's Ears in your garden, it's important to select a planting site that is well-draining and provides adequate moisture. The plant is hardy and can grow in a variety of soils, but it prefers a moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Make sure to give the plant adequate sunlight, as it will perform best in a location that receives full sun or partial shade.

Once you have selected a planting site and have prepared the soil, it's time to plant your Elephant's Ears. Simply plant the rhizome about 1 inch below the soil surface, water it in well, and then provide it with regular watering until it becomes established.

In conclusion, Elephant's Ears is a versatile and attractive plant that can be used in a variety of ways in the garden. With its large, fleshy leaves, delicate flowers, and tough, hardy nature, it's a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance option that will provide color and interest to their garden.

20 Elephant Ears Facts

  1. Botanical Name: The scientific name for Elephant Ears is Bergenia crassifolia.

  2. Origin: Native to central Asia, Elephant Ears are commonly found in regions such as Siberia, China, and the Himalayas.

  3. Leaf Size: The large, thick leaves of Elephant Ears can reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter, resembling the shape of elephant ears.

  4. Foliage Color: The leaves come in various shades, ranging from dark green to reddish or bronze tones, depending on the variety and environmental conditions.

  5. Flower Stalks: In spring, Elephant Ears produce tall flower stalks adorned with clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers, typically in shades of pink or magenta.

  6. Drought Tolerance: These plants are known for their resilience and can tolerate periods of drought once established.

  7. Cold Hardy: Elephant Ears are cold-hardy perennials, capable of withstanding freezing temperatures in winter.

  8. Ground Cover: They are often used as ground cover due to their spreading habit, forming dense mats of foliage.

  9. Deer Resistant: Elephant Ears are generally resistant to deer browsing, making them a good choice for gardens in deer-prone areas.

  10. Partial Shade Preference: While they can tolerate full sun, Elephant Ears prefer partial shade, especially in regions with hot summers.

  11. Evergreen Foliage: In milder climates, the leaves of some Elephant Ear varieties remain evergreen throughout the year.

  12. Low Maintenance: Once established, these plants are relatively low maintenance and require minimal care.

  13. Soil Preference: Elephant Ears thrive in well-draining soil and can adapt to various soil types, including sandy or loamy soils.

  14. Container Gardening: They can be grown successfully in containers, adding a tropical touch to patios and balconies.

  15. Medicinal Uses: In traditional medicine, extracts from Elephant Ears have been used for their anti-inflammatory properties.

  16. Attracts Bees and Butterflies: The flowers of Elephant Ears attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, contributing to garden biodiversity.

  17. Architectural Foliage: The bold and textured foliage of Elephant Ears adds architectural interest to garden landscapes.

  18. Propagation: These plants can be propagated through division, separating rhizomes to create new plants.

  19. Versatile Landscaping: Elephant Ears are versatile and can be used in a variety of landscaping settings, from borders to woodland gardens.

  20. Cultural Significance: In some cultures, Elephant Ears symbolize strength and protection, and they are often included in gardens for their symbolic value.


Video 1: Elephant Ear's filmed in Chorley, Lancashire on the 12th February 2023.


Video 2: Elephant Ears filmed at Bolton-le-sands in Lancashire on the 3rd September 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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