Tricyrtis formosana 'Samurai'
Common Name: toad lily
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Liliaceae
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Purple with darker purple spotting
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, humusy, slightly acidic soils in part shade. Soil must not be allowed to dry out. This plant will naturalize in the garden by creeping rhizomes to form dense colonies over time in a non-invasive manner.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tricyrtis formosana, commonly called toad lily, is an herbaceous shade-loving perennial of the lily family that typically grows in a spreading clump to 2-3’ tall. It is native to shaded areas of forests, thickets and roadsides in Taiwan. Small, star-shaped, lily-like flowers (1” long) feature six showy tepals (3 inner petals and 3 outer sepals which are similar in appearance). Flowers bloom in branched clusters (cymes) primarily at the stem ends but also in the upper leaf axils in late summer to early fall. Flowers are white with heavy reddish-purple spotting and yellowish throats. Broad lanceolate to obovate, shiny, dark green leaves (to 4-6” long) have parallel veins, hairy undersides and clasping leaf bases. Leaves generally remain attractive throughout the growing season.

Genus name comes from the Greek words tri meaning three and kyrtos meaning swelling or bulging in reference to the swollen sac-like nectarines at the base of each of the three sepals (3 outer tepals) in the plant flower.

Specific epithet is in reference to this species being native to Formosa (now Taiwan).

Common name has a number of possible origins, the simplest one being the resemblance of the spotted flowers to the skin of some toads.

‘Samurai’ is a compact form that is particularly noted for its attractive creamy golden-edged foliage. It typically grows in a clump to 12-18” tall, but will spread over time to 36” wide. Foliage provides interesting variegated color to shady landscape areas prior to the late summer bloom of the contrasting purple spotted flowers with yellow throats.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails are occasional visitors.

Garden Uses

Shade-loving perennial. Borders, woodland gardens, shade gardens or naturalized areas. Best sited in areas where they can be observed at close range because the beauty and detail of the small flowers tends to get lost if plants can not be examined and appreciated close up. Good cut flower.