Owens of Michigan
in 1986 as a
open-pollinated seedling of H. 'Mira',
this slow growing cultivar once held the prize as having the largest leaves.
Even though it has now been surpassed by other cultivars, it is
still known for its huge leaves and giant size (32 inches high
by 72 inches wide)
mound of foliage. The foliage is broadly oblong to ovate,
slightly rippled, convexly cupped and moderately corrugated. Near white flowers bloom
from June into
The Hostapedia by
Mark Zilis (2009), this cultivar "...matures into a massive mound of
huge leaves that makes a great specimen plant. It is also
proving to be an outstanding breeding plant."
Field Guide to Hostas by Mark Zilis (2014), "...no longer holds the title of "world's largest hosta
leaves", one of its seedlings does. The leaves of 'Empress
Wu' can reach 22" or more in length."
The New Encyclopedia of Hostas by
Grenfell (2009) states: "Rapidly exceeds its registered dimensions to
become one of the largest hostas both in clump and individual
leaf size...Most of the glaucous bloom on the upper leaf surface
is toward the midrib."
An article by Rob Mortko in
Hosta Journal (2008 Vol. 39 No.3) states that, "This
seedling was named 'Xanadu Empress Wu', now shortened to 'Empress Wu'. In case
you're wondering, 'Empress Wu' was named in honor of arguably the most powerful
and influential woman in world history. She was the only female emperor ever in
China, reigning for half a century during the Tang Dynasty...in the 7th century
A.D...In many ways, 'Empress Wu' looks just like 'Big John' -- only on steroids.
In addition to size, however, it also has some other interesting differences. H.
'Empress Wu' continuously sends up scapes for nearly two months, with an overall
bloom time approaching three months. Blooming typically starts in late May,
almost a month before 'Big John'. "