Botanical name: Tiarella cordifolia
Virtues: Attractive in both flower and leaf. A compact plant that will spread to make a good groundcover. Makes a good alternative to the invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
Flower: Cones of small white flowers appear on stalks above the foliage in middle spring.
Foliage: Heart-shaped leaves are green in spring and summer. Their veins create a textured look. They turn bronze in the fall.
Habit: Herbaceous perennial to roughly one foot tall and wide, or a bit smaller. Spreads by short underground stems (rhizomes) to create a dense groundcover at a moderate pace.
Season: Spring through fall for foliage; spring for flowers. May be semi-evergreen in warmest areas of its hardiness range.
Origin: Cool, moist woods of eastern North America.
Cultivation: Grow in partial or full shade, in moist, humusy soil. Can tolerate more sun in northern regions, and will survive some drought once established, though it prefers moderate moisture. USDA Zones 3–8.
Plan your shade garden with the Shade Garden Wheel, a fun and easy-to-use garden design tool.
See our CD on gardening in the shade
Horticulture January 2010 is available as a download; it includes 50 great native plants.