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Tellima grandiflora

syn. T. odorata, T. breviflora
Family: Saxifragaceae
Pronounced: TEH-lih-muh


Geographic Origin:
Alaska to California.
Plant Group:
Sunset zones: A3, 2-9, 14-17.
USDA zones: 4-8.
Heat zones: 8-1.
Mature size:
Height: 32 inches (80 cm).
Width: 12 inches (30 cm).
Flowering period:
April to May.
Flowering attributes:
Racemes of fragrant, greenish-white fringe cups that fade to pink, sometimes red, as the flower ages.
Leaf attributes:
Heart-shaped, scalloped, hairy, green leaves.
Growth habit:
Rosette forming perennial.
Partial sun to light shade; full sun if mulch is provided.
Moist, humus rich soil, but will tolerate drought conditions once established.
Spring feeding with a complete organic fertilizer. Side dress with compost.
Propagation Methods:
Divide in spring.
Sow seed as soon as ripe or in spring at 68ºF (20ºC).
Pests and Diseases:
Powdery mildew may be a problem, while slugs can be a problem when plants are small.

Rainy Side Notes

Woodland elves eat fringe cups to help improve their vision; however, I couldn’t find any research that supports this theory, and nothing about its affect on human eyesight.

There is one special tellima species in the Northwest — grandiflora. These western natives grow in moist forests, along stream banks and in meadows. In my neighborhood, the ditches and wild spaces come alive with masses of fringe cups in full bloom. I watch for them to begin flowering around the end of April. It's always a treat to see a bank covered in its mildly, fragrant blooms. In Gardening with Pacific Northwest Natives, Art Kruckeberg warns us that tellimas have a "somewhat aggressive nature"; however, in my experience, it spreads slowly and only occasionally do seedlings pop up in other areas of the garden.

Fringecups grow in a well-drained area of my garden with very little supplemental irrigation. This may be the reason they behave themselves in my garden and may be more rampant in a moister environment. April Pettinger, author of Native Plants in the Coastal Garden, notes in her book that it spreads slowly.

For all ailments, the Skagit, who called the plant taxobdaloxid, used the whole plant. They pounded it, boiled it and drank it as a tea. It also helped restore the appetite.

Another great fringe cup you can see is Tellima 'Forest Frost'.

Photographed in author's garden.

Rainy Side Gardeners —