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Tricyrtis formosana

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Compsoa formosana
  • Tricyrtis amethystina
  • Tricyrtis stolonifera
Description

The Toad Lily or Formosan Toad Lily is a showy, shade loving perennial from the lily family that has small orchid-like flowers. The Genus name "tricyrtis" is Greek. "Tri" means three, and "Kyrtos" means swelling, arched, bulging, or humped. This refers to the three sac-like nectaries at the base of the tepals (3 inner petals and 3 outer sepals). This species name "formosana" refers to the flower being a native of Formosa which is present day Taiwan.

The explanation for the name "Toad Lily" refers to flowers being spotted like toads and having warty, sac-like bumps which are the nectaries. The genus Tricyrtis is native to China, Korea, Japan, Nepal, Taiwan, and Philippines. The flowers are found on the edge of forests, near creek beds, and at the edge of roads. Tricyrtis genus has about 20 species but only Tricyrtis formosana and Tricyrtis hirta are common in gardens. Toad Lily (Formosan Toad Lily) is a native of Taiwan.

The plant has an erect stem which can be as tall as 40 inches with glossy leaves. The small flowers appear at the end of the stem in clusters (cymes), and they are white with reddish-purple speckling or spots. The flower of this species is smaller than many of the other species. The plant spreads through underground rhizomes. It may be propagated by seeds, stem cuttings, or divisions. Seeds need to be collected late fall as the capsules split open. The seeds need to be sown while still fresh and should not be covered with soil. Some species require cold stratification before they will germinate. Divisions may be done in the spring and must include an underground growth bud to be successful. Stem cuttings are easily rooted in the summer.

The plant does not perform well in deep shade and prefers light open shade. Full sun will scorch the leaves. If the plant is exposed to temperatures < 28 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time, it will cause severe damage to the plant.

Toad Lilies were introduced to United States gardens in recent years. Their use began in ornamental gardens in the mid 90s. They are deer resistant. Pests include occasion slugs and snails. Rabbits like to feed on new growth. Tricyrtis floral virus, which is spread by aphids, may cause the flower color to become mottled and then change completely to purple. Anthracnose, which is a fungal disease, will cause orange spots on the stems and leaves. This can be avoided by keeping the leaves dry and watering only at the base of the plant.

Toad Lilies are best appreciated when viewed up close such as along a border or path. They compliment a Shade Garden with plants such as hosta, ferns, and astilbe. They are also a good cut flower. Various cultivars of this plant have variegated foliage and some have purple flowers with dark spots.

Alternate native plants include Mimulus ringens, Viola canadensis, Clinopodium nepeta and Verbena.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Slugs and snails are insect that may be attracted to this plant.  Tricyrtis Floral Virus and Anthracnose are common diseases.

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Autumn Glow'
    Dark green leaves with yellow border and purple flower with dark spots.
  • 'Dark Beauty'
    White flower with dark purple to black spots and gold center.
  • 'Gates of Heaven'
    Gold foliage with purple flowers on short stems.
  • 'Gilt Edge'
    Shiny green leaves with gold border, white flowers with heavy purple speckling.
  • 'Samurai'
    Golden edged leaves, white flowers with heavy purple speckling.
  • 'Seiryu'
    White-wine colored flowers.
'Autumn Glow', 'Dark Beauty', 'Gates of Heaven', 'Gilt Edge', 'Samurai', 'Seiryu'
Tags:
#perennial#herbaceous perennial
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Autumn Glow'
    Dark green leaves with yellow border and purple flower with dark spots.
  • 'Dark Beauty'
    White flower with dark purple to black spots and gold center.
  • 'Gates of Heaven'
    Gold foliage with purple flowers on short stems.
  • 'Gilt Edge'
    Shiny green leaves with gold border, white flowers with heavy purple speckling.
  • 'Samurai'
    Golden edged leaves, white flowers with heavy purple speckling.
  • 'Seiryu'
    White-wine colored flowers.
'Autumn Glow', 'Dark Beauty', 'Gates of Heaven', 'Gilt Edge', 'Samurai', 'Seiryu'
Tags:
#perennial#herbaceous perennial
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tricyrtis
    Species:
    formosana
    Family:
    Liliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Taiwan, Nansei-shoto Islands--Ryukyu
    Wildlife Value:
    Small mammals feed on new growth. Hummingbirds feed on the nectar. It is pollinated by bees.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    After flowering, the cylinder shaped seed capsules open and inside are tiny round, flat, papery seeds. The seeds should be harvested in the fall. Plant the seeds when they are fresh and do not cover with soil. They typically require cold stratification before they will germinate.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flower is small, about 1 inch long. It is star-shaped, lily or orchid-like. There are 6 showy tepals which include 3 inner petals and 3 outer sepals of similar appearance. The flowers bloom in cymes or branched clusters like day lilies. They are primarily at the top of the stem of the plant. The Toad Lily is white with reddish purple freckles and yellow throats or centers. There are three sac-like nectaries at the base of the tepals. They bloom late summer to early fall.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Obovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are lanceolate to obovate, shiny, and dark green in color. They have fine transparent hairs on the undersides. They clasp at the leaf base. Depending on the cultivar, the color of the leaves may vary from green to green with yellow/gold edges or gold to gold with creamy white edges.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    The stem is erect and measures from 24" to 40" tall. The stem has fine transparent hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Hummingbirds
    Small Mammals