Pronunciation: try-SER-tis for-MOH-sa-nuh
Species Meaning: Of or from Formosa (now Taiwan)
Tricyrtis formosana is native to Taiwan.
Tricyrtis are exotic, orchid-like flowers that bloom profusely in the shade. They like a moist, woody spot, Tricyrtis bloom when many other shade lovers are long done.
Commercially, Tricyrtis are propagated from stem cutting or tissue culture. They can be propagate via seed, cuttings, or division. The plant will reseed itself around the garden if happy, however, you can collect the seed in the late fall (November) as the capsules dry and split open. The seed should be sown fresh, but because of their small size, do not cover the seed with potting soil. Some tricyrtis species seeds require a period of cold stratification before they will germinate.
To divide a plant, you must be sure to get an underground growth bud. Simply taking a piece of the clump may not work, since during the summer, tricyrtis forms an underground growth bud for the upcoming year. Each stem grows only for one season, so if you take a stem with roots and miss the next years bud, you will not have a plant next year.
Stem cuttings are easy to root in the summer months…ideally before the flower buds develop. Remove a stem and cut it into 3-4″ sections with a leaf near the top and bare stem below. Insert the stem into a rooting media up to the base of the leaf and place it where the leaf will stay moist until the new roots are formed. New plants will grow from the leaf axil and subsequently root into the soil.
The Japanese have a prettier common name for toad lilies: hototogiso which translates to “little cuckoo”, a shy but attractive forest dwelling bird.
The most common explanation for the name toad lily is that the flowers and leaves are spotted like toads. An alternative reason, which is known to be false, but it doesn’t stop it being spread, just as I am doing, is that a primitive Filipino tribe called the Tasaday rubbed the scented, sticky juice of the plant onto their hands and arms before going frog hunting. The smell was said to attract frogs and the stickiness made it easier to catch them. It is known that this was said to increase eco-tourism to the Philippines and to bilk money from philanthropists. This story was first told in a 1972 National Geographic documentary, “The Last Tribes of Mindanao” and the hoax was uncovered in the 1986 20/20 documentary “The Tribe that Never Was.”
In Our Garden
Plant ID: P20120
This is a fairly tall toad lily with pink and purple blotchy flowers in late summer, early fall. Its six petals are purple and white, it inverted pollen sacs are a pale purple and the sticiky anthers are red. There is a yellow band around the base of the flower.
We acquired this plant from Joy Creek.