Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Tellima Grandiflora ‘Purpurea’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Tellima grandiflora 'Purpurea' (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Tellima grandiflora 'Purpurea' (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Dappled shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 30cm (flowering 80cm)

Eventual Spread: 30cm

Hardiness: 4a – 7b

Family: Saxifragaceae

Tellima grandiflora ‘Purpurea’ is a low growing evergreen/ semi-evergreen, spreading, herbaceous perennial. The scalloped leaves of the plant are hairy and rounded.  They are up to 10cm long with 5/7 lobes and  purple/ red in color. The slender stems of the plant are hairy and purple in color. The pink flowers are deeply fringed, borne in terminal racemes that are up to 12cm long, on flower spikes that are up to 60cm long. The fruits of the plant are capsules, about 4mm long, with brown seeds that are wrinkled and warty in appearance. This plant spreads by its spreading root system.

The species, Tellima grandiflora, commonly known as Fringecups or Bigflower Tellima, is native to moist forests in west North America. It is the only species in the genus Tellima. It has become naturalized in some parts of the UK.

The etymological root of the binomial name Tellima is said to be an anagram of Mitella, from which the genus was separated. Mitella is from the Greek diminutive mitre, ‘little-mitre’, referring to the seed pod shape. Grandiflora is derived form the Latin grandis ‘large’ and flora ‘flower’. Purpurea is from the Latin meaning purple

Tellima grandiflora 'Purpurea' leaf (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Tellima grandiflora 'Purpurea' leaf (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Tellima grandiflora ‘Purpurea’ useful as an effective evergreen herbaceous ground-cover plant, being particularly useful in shady locations. Once established this plant is drought tolerant.

Ecologically, Tellima grandiflora ‘Purpurea’ is of little value to UK wildlife.

Tellima grandiflora ‘Purpurea’ prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Tellima grandiflora ‘Purpurea’ requires little maintenance. Large clumps of this plant may be divided in spring.


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