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Heartleaf Foamflower, False Miterwort, Coalwort, Coolwort, False Bitterroot - Tiarella cordifolia

Family: Saxifragaceae - Saxifrage family Genus Common Name: Foamflower Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Tiarella cordifolia - Heartleaf Foamflower, False Miterwort, Coalwort, Coolwort, False Bitterroot.
Tiarella - Foamflower - is a genus of just a few species; Flora of North America says 3, with 2 being found in North America (the 3rd in Asia.) There has been some disagreement over this, with the eastern species, Tiarella cordifolia - the one presented here - having been classified as several different species at various times, but the differences have not been found to be consistent, and in some cases there was even confusion as to whether the foliage was from the Tiarella plant at all. Additionally, there apparently is some evidence of hybrids between Tiarella, Mitella, and Heuchera species. For now, Tiarella cordifolia is the eastern Foamflower species, found in most states east of the Mississippi, and Tiarella trifoliata, characterized by a 3-part compound leaf vs. the simple leaf of T. cordifolia, is found in 5 states in the northwestern corner of the United States, as well as in Alaska and western Canada.

According to Guido Mase of The Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, "Leaves rich in saponins, tea used for washing, chest congestion." It is also reported that the leaves were used on scalds and burns to relieve the pain, yielding the "coalwort" and "coolwort" common names.

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Tiarella cordifolia

Distribution of Tiarella cordifolia in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 25 Feb 2018). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2008-April-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D40
Heartleaf Foamflower with Purple Phacelia and Wild Blue Phlox in the background.
Tiarella cordifolia

Site: The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2008-April-11Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D40
1/60f/8 ISO220
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm 3.5-5.6G ED
52mm (78 equiv)
Foamflower inflorescence is a terminal raceme borne on a leafless stalk which may be 20 inches tall. The individual flowers have 10 long stamens, and 5 each white (or pinkish) petals and sepals. The hypanthium and pedicel are covered with glandular hairs.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tiarella cordifolia

Site: The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2009-March-09Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Heartleaf Foamflower - Tiarella cordifolia has a rosette of several 3- to 5-lobed basal leaves on long petioles, usually with cordate (heart-shaped) bases. These leaves turn reddish in winter. The separate flower stems may rise from last year's leaves before the new, green leaves show up, but the new leaves are usually present before the flowers open.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tiarella cordifolia

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2018
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer