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Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver' (foamflower)

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Technical sheet - Tiarella

Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver'


A truly low-maintenance shade native that thrives in a woodland garden, Elizabeth Oliver is a beautiful selection with a tidy clumping habit, striking red streaked leaves and delicate flowers tinged with pink. A good groundcover and a Primrose Path introduction via Charles Oliver.

Tiarella cordifolia 'Elizabeth Oliver' - 72 per flat Availability
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12-15 Inches


12 Inches


12 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8

foamflower Interesting Notes

Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver' has become a classic among the fancy-leaved varieties of foamflower available today. It was the earliest of the hybrids between eastern and western Tiarella to become widely known, and it is the ancestor of almost all of the cut-leaved forms currently on the world market. Like its namesake, it is still among the very best available.

'Elizabeth Oliver' - This striking selection has deeply-lobed leaves with heavy maroon markings and light pink flowers. It spreads by 6-12" runners to make a dense patch. This cultivar and 'Tiger Stripe' are involved in the ancestry of most of the new cut-leaved and heavily-marked Tiarellas on the world market today, but they have not been excelled for vigor or beauty. The Primrose Path

Tiarella is in the same family as and somewhat suggestive of Heuchera, Tellima and Mitella. Tiarella is sometimes commonly called false miterwort because of its similarity to Mitella (miterwort). Kemper Center for Home Gardening

Once kept as a secret known only to woodland gardeners, foamflowers have emerged from the North American forest to take a new place in our landscape. Tough, evergreen and tolerant of the deepest shade, Tiarellas are finding a home next to Hostas in many a garden. Ever since my romance with plants began 25 years ago, I have been driven to collect and breed hardy plants with gorgeous leaves. To keep the foliage romance aflame, I've focused on plants in the Saxifrage family --Tiarella, Heuchera, and recently Heucherellas -- hardy, easy-to-grow plants with wonderful leaves and wildly surprising flowers. Working with seven Tiarella taxa, several American breeders have come up with a fascinating array of hybrids as well as natural selections of the species. Recent introductions from Sinclair Adam (known as the "Pharaoh of Foamflowers"), Charles Oliver, Jim Plyler, Don Jacobs, and my nursery have created a new world of foliage, form and fragrance from these quiet mounds that inhabit the moist woods of North America.

The taxonomy of Tiarella has been a confused issue due to the dearth of botanical literature. Although Linneaus described Tiarella cordifolia nearly 200 years ago, only minor writings have been written by John Kunkel in 1903 and Dr. Olga Lakela of the University of Minnessota in the 30's. She was responsible for naming the clumping Tiarella after Dr. Wherry, a prominent authority and collector of native plants. A Dr. Fernald, affiliated with Gray's Manual of Botany had clumped all 'Clumpers' under T. wherryii and all runners under T. cordifolia.This was reflected in Hortus III, which was published in 1976. Plantsman Don Jacobs, (whom I thank for this information), has published an artificial key dividing Eastern Tiarellas into 7 Taxa on the basis of flower count, branching, runnering, and other morphological differences. American Rock Garden Society Bulletin, Vol. 49: 1 winter '91 PP 45-51

TIARELLA (Saxifragaceae)--Foamflower--These are small plants native to the woodlands of North American and eastern Asia. Easily grown in humusy soil in shade, they have fluffy flower spikes 12-16" tall of small, starry white or pink flowers in early spring. Recent botanical references tend to lump all of the eastern forms under a single species, T. cordifolia, but this name includes a wide array of forms. In general, the name Tiarella cordifolia has been used to refer to the running form of eastern North America. T. wherryi is a matte-leaved clump former of the upper South and T. collina is a more robust, shiny-leaved form from the South. We are listing some of the selections we offer under these names, since they are selections of these naturally occurring, easily differentiated types. Tiarellas may grow as tight clumps or run to form loose mats. The flowers may be white or light pink. The leaves may be light or dark green, marked with maroon stripes and spots or plain, heartshaped or lobed, shiny or matte. In recent years there has been very active selection of new cultivars in this country. The forms with very cut foliage, like 'Elizabeth Oliver' are descendants of hybrids made in the late 1980s at The Primrose Path between eastern forms and a plant from the Pacific Northwest, T. trifoliata var. laciniata.Many beautiful new garden cultivars have resulted from these hybrids, some very different from any forms found in the wild and much more impressive as specimens. The Primrose Path

Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Tiarellas prefer moist, rich, organic, well-drained soils in full to part shade. Do not let soil dry out. Elizabeth Oliver is clump-forming, but may spread slowly by runners in some gardens. Remove dead leaves in late fall or early spring for best spring appearance. Makes an excellent groundcover or edging for shady or naturalized areas.

Good Substitutions

foamflower Tiarella cordifolia var. collina 'Oakleaf'
foamflower Tiarella cordifolia
foamflower Tiarella cordifolia 'Brandywine'
foamflower Tiarella cordifolia 'Running Tapestry'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Shade
Full Shade
Part Sun
Part Sun

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative (FAC)
Plug Type
Horticultural Plug
Ornamental Foliage
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Spring / Early Summer
Propagation Type
Tissue culture