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Tiarella cordifolia

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Plant types and subtypes: Perennials, Ground Covers

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, rich, average, loam, sand

Height: 6"-12"

Bloom Time: April, May

Bloom Color: white, pink

Leaf Color: green, multi-color

Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: clumping, colonizing, creeping, fall interest, ornamental foliage, rock garden plant, shade garden plant, woodland plant

Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)

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Description

Tiarella cordifolia

Also known as:

heartleaf foamflower

,

foamflower

,

heart-leaved foamflower

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Tiarella cordifolia is a shade-loving perennial with attractive foliage that forms dense clumps up to 12" tall. The leaves stay close to the ground, are heart-shaped and lobed in a manner reminiscent of some maple leaves, and can be conspicuously veined with purple. Evergreen in the southern parts of its native range, its autumnal colors shifting towards reddish and bronze hues are a late season delight. The common name, foamflower, is a well deserved one. From early through mid-spring, 8-10" bottlebrush-like stems emerge veiled in delicate star-shaped flowers bearing hues of white to pink.

Cultivation

Native to eastern deciduous woodlands and hemlock forests, Tiarella cordifolia is a very adaptable species well-suited for shade gardens. It prefers moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter, and dappled light. It can suffer from excessively dry summer spells, and prolonged winter periods with wet feet. But, if one can avoid these extremes, foamflowers are very easy to grow and low-maintenance. It is not an aggressive species, yet if left to its own devices, it will from an effective ground cover in due time. It can spread and naturalize by seed, but dense colonies form primarily by above-ground runners known as stolons. When you combine its easy-going nature and adaptability, you also get an excellent filler plant. Take advantage of the ornamental foliage to complement, or contrast, other shade-loving plants such as ferns and sedges, Phlox stolonifera, Polygonatum biflorum, Trillium grandiflorum, and more. Or, just plant them en masse in the front of a border.

Propagation

Best propagated by division in spring or fall. Easy to propagate from seed without particular preparation, but new plants are slow to mature.

Additional Notes

Tiarella should be kept apart from Heuchera species: not only are they visually similar, but they are so closely related that they will tend to hybridize.

So, what’s up with botanical names? The generic name, Tiarella, is the diminutive form of the Latin (ish) word tiara that was used to describe the headdress of Persian kings going back to the 16th century. Although the individual flowers do look like crowns upon close inspection, the reference is to the turban-like shape of the seed capsules. It works either way, if you ask me. The specific epithet, cordifolia, means with heart-shaped leaves. It combines the prefix “cor”, or “cord” that means heart or soul (think “coronary” or “cordial”) with the suffix “folia” that means leaf.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, CT, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: NJ, WI

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Rosales
Family Saxifragaceae Saxifrage family
Genus Tiarella foamflower
Species Tiarella cordifolia heartleaf foamflower