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This is a plant that I consider the West Coast cousin to Heuchera, not that the West Coast doesn't have it's own Heucheras. There are several members of the Saxifragaceae family that are endemic only to the West Coast like Tolmiea, Tellima and Darmera (Peltiphyllum).
Tellima grandiflora grows in moist to dry woodlands from Alaska to California. An Interesting fact about the name - it's an anagram (a word or phrase made by transposing the letters of another word or phrase) of the word Mitella. Mitella is a genus of plants also in the Saxifragaceae family with similar characteristics. The only other name, that I know of, in botanical nomenclature that's an anagram is Saruma, which is Asarum transposed, Both plants are in the Aristolochiaceae family, but more about this in a future "Glick Pick".
In the garden, I grow Tellima grandiflora in full shade under a couple of Quercus palustris ("Pin Oaks"). In flower, it reaches a height of 18" - 24" and forms a clump 12" - 24". The common name, "Fringe Cups" is easy to understand when you take a close look at the flowers. And close you have to get, as they are very small and if you're over 50, you'll need a cheap pair of reading glasses to get in close enough without blurring. I recommend WalMart for this, only $2.75, whatta deal! Or....you could always go to the web and see a great closeup of the flower by Ken Gardiner at http://www.stanford.edu/~rawlings/kengif/fr incup.html
I'm pretty confident as to the ability of Tellima grandiflora to tolerate heat, as in our production greenhouses, Tellima grandiflora is subjected to temperatures approaching 100 degrees F in full, direct sunlight. As far as cold hardiness goes, it has survived many very cold zone 5 Winters and would probably grow in virtually any state in the US.
My friend Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon has a knack for finding variegated plants, and in a wild population, discovered a Tellima grandiflora with a gorgeous silvery marking pattern. You can see Tellima grandiflora 'Pacific Frost' at http://www.terranovanurseries.com/pages/pla ntsS2.html#TellimaForestFr
There are other forms of Tellima grandiflora about, and I've tried several selections from seed exchanges that have not met my expectations. In growing Tellima grandiflora rubrifolia, none of the seedlings had rubrifolia. And I've not sensed any fragrance from
Tellima grandiflora f.odorata, and with this rather large, Jewish nose, believe me, my olfactory senses are quite well developed.
Anyway....Tellima grandiflora is a great addition to any wild garden, woodland garden or perennial border. Grow it and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.
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Copyright © Barry Glick 1996-2013. All Rights Reserved.
Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208
Last modified February 24, 2009