The Toad Lilies
is a wonderful group of hardy herbaceous perennials belonging to the
Convallariaceae family, whose star member is Convallaria majalis -- Lily-of
the-Valley. Tricyrtis means `three humps. If you look at the base
of the outer petals, you will notice they are swollen or humped. The
vernacular, Toad Lily, is a little more controversial. Supposedly the
Tasaday Tribes would rub the juice of the flowers and leaves on their
hands before setting out to collect `frogs. This made their hands
less slippery and more attractive to `frogs. Here froggie, froggie,
Tricyrtis are native to China, Nepal, Korea, Japan,
Taiwan, The Philippine Islands and Japan which has the greatest diversity.
About 20 species generally are recognized with some new ones being discovered
quite recently. Tricyrtis in Japanese is Hototogisu, which may translate
to "cuckoo" for
the spotted leaves and flowers.
Tricyrtis are rhizomatous and enjoy slowly spreading forming wonderful
clumps in the shady garden. They thrive in moist humusy loam soils.
I have grown a number of different taxa with mixed results. My
soils are a little dry for Tricyrtis so I need to water them to
keep them healthy. Flowering in some species is a bit unusual as
the first flowers to bloom are at the very tip, blooming in sequence
down the stem. Liatris is another plant that blooms from the tip
towards the base. Most types make excellent cut flowers stem. I
believe you should not cut off more than 50% of the stem as it
seems to reduce their vigor if cut to the ground. Pests are few
but those rascally rabbits can cause significant destruction. Some
species and numerous cultivars of Tricyrtis include:
Tricyrtis latifolia is wonderful with its yellow flowers in early June-July.
The glossy green leaves and terminal flowers liven up the shady early summer
Tricyrtis macranthopsis is a moist cliff dweller with
gorgeous yellow flowers in the autumn. Although it can be grown on
the flat ground, I think it is best cascading over boulders and low
Tricyrtis maculata has
attractive spotted leaves with nice near white, purple spotted flowers
Tricyrtis hirta blooms
in September and October. Since they bloom so late, they can freeze
before flowering. I usually get out and cover mine so I can enjoy them
after that first early frosting.
`Alba has very nice
evenly white margined medium green leaves with handsome white with
a wonderful vigorous late September October cultivar with large
white flowers with numerous
purple irregular spots. The flowers dance along the top of the arching stems.
`White Towers sports
attractive vertical stems and white flowers with a hint of yellow at
the base. A good grower.
Tricyrtis cultivars and hybrids include:
`Togen has never failed
to bloom with white flowers dipped in amethyst at the tips, atop 24-30 stems
August through September.The glossy green perfoliate leaves are heat tolerant,
throughout the growing season. Vigorous.
`Sininome is a smaller
Tricyrtis with dark green leaves and darker spots. The beautiful ruby
violet and white,
lightly spotted flowers appear in Late August and well through September.
`Shimona is one of the
tallest with white flowers handsomely speckled in deep ruby-wine.
`Golden Gleam has narrow hairy golden leaves with pale lavender
darkly purple spotted narrow petaled
flowers. Nice color contract in the shady green garden.
`Kohaku is unique with
its flared bell shaped white and yellow with burgundy spotted flowers
that are more
pendant than most. A wonderful cultivar.
`White Flame has creamy
centered green foliage on a 18-24 bushy plant. Light lavender
flowers with purple
of Plant Names `The
pronunciation, derivation, and meaning of botanical names, and
their common-name equivalents?f by Allen J. Coombes