Family (Saxifrage, that is) Jewels

A couple of weeks ago, I bragged about researching Henderson’s Checkermallow (Sidalcea hendersonii). If I had really done “research”, I would have questioned what I already “knew” about that plant. A friend gently mentioned that it is in the Mallow family (Malvaceae), NOT the Saxifrage family. This may not seem a big deal to non-plant-addicts, but this information is supposed to be deeply embedded in my brain. Once again, I am humbled by the voluminous, towering mass of Stuff I Should Know.

Stuff I Do Know: We do have some very nice members of the Saxifrage family abiding at Tadpole Haven.

Several like hanging out in the shade. Leafy Mitrewort (Mitella caulescens), Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora), Foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) and Piggy-back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii) fit in that category. Fringecup and Piggy-back can even handle quite wet soil. They both have tall (~3’) flowers: Fringecup’s small but numerous flowers are yellow tinged with red; Piggy-back’s are rather plain—its main claim to fame is its lush foliage with new leaves sprouting from the older leaves. Leafy Mitrewort’s foliage hugs the ground. It sends out short runners, forming a lovely carpet from which emerge miniature-periscope-like flower stalks towering an awesome six inches above the forest floor. The green (!) blossoms are exquisite and can inspire perfectly normal people to get down on their hands and knees to enjoy them! Foamflower, even in bloom, only gets about 1 ½ feet tall. The frothy white–sometimes pale pink—flowers appear en masse in spring, but continue to bloom, though less profusely, all summer and into the fall.

IMGP5121Mitella caulescens cropped

Delicate Flowers of Leafy Mitrewort (Mitella caulescens)


Foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata)

Foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata)




Piggy-back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)

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