Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii) SE


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Plant Description: This plant produces mainly basal leaves which are hairy with long hairy stalks. The leaves are heart-shaped with 5 to 7 lobes and coarsely toothed, sometimes with buds at the base of the leaf blade and few stem leaves. The leaves are up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length and width.  An inflorescence of brownish-purple or chocolate brown flowers with 4 ribbon-like petals, 5 sepals, and 3 stamens grow on a central stem. The flowers are less than half an inch (6 to 10 mm) in length.

  • Height: 1-2ft
  • Width: 1 ft
  • Watering needs: moist
  • Sun needs: part-shade, shade
  • Soil needs: moist, well-draining to dry, rocky; prefers rich acidic
  • Bloom Time: April
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function Moist woods and streambanks from low elevations along the coast to mid-elevations in the mountains. Full shade to part shade. 

The Cowlitz Pacific Northwest tribe has used a poultice of fresh leaves to treat skin boils. The Makah Pacific Northwest tribe has eaten raw early spring sprouts for food.

This is one of the few native species which can tolerate the low humidity inside modern homes, therefore it has been sold as an indoor houseplant. Small buds at the base of the leaf blades develop "daughter plants," thus the common names piggy-back plant or youth-on-age.

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