Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), is one of nearly 700 members of the Saxifragaceae family whose members are native to the moist shady woodlands of North American and eastern Asia; this clump-forming perennial herb blooms from April to June when it reaches its maximum height of 6-12 inches. The genus name Tiarella is derived from the Greek Tiara, a term for a turban worn by ancient Persians and is reminiscent of the shape of the pistil.
It is an attractive perennial with leafy stems from 6-12 inches high and numerous maple-shaped basal leaves. The basal leaves are up to 12 cm wide and 8 cm long with a heart-shaped base. The upper leaves are similar but smaller with shorter petioles and only 3 lobes. The single or clustered stems are erect or spreading. The inflorescence is an open raceme grouped in a foam-like cluster of tiny starry white or pink flowers. The shallow root system of this plant makes a happy companion of deep rooted plants. Propagation is by division or cuttings.
This plant has a high tannin content making it a natural astringent. Native Americans made leaf tea to cure mouth sores and eye ailments. Root tea was used to treat diarrhea, as well as made into a poultice for topical wounds.
For a listing of other plants found growing in Davis, visit our Town Flora.