Flowers - False Mitrewort; Coolwort; Foam-Flower; Nancy-over-the-Ground
( Originally Published 1916 )
(Tiarella cordifolia) Saxifrage family.
Flowers—White, small, feathery, borne in a close raceme at the top of a scape 6 to 12 in. high. Calyx white, 5-lobed ; 5 clawed petals ; 10 stamens, long-exserted ; 1 pistil with 2 styles. Leaves : Long-petioled from the rootstock or runners, rounded or broadly heart-shaped, 3 to 7-lobed, toothed, often downy along veins beneath.
Preferred Habitat—Rich, moist woods, especially along mountains. Flowering Season—April—May.
Distribution—Nova Scotia to Georgia, and westward scarcely to the Mississippi.
Fuzzy, bright white foam-flowers are most conspicuous in the forest when seen against their unevenly colored leaves that carpet the ground. A relative, the true Mitrewort or Bishop's Cap (Mittella diphylla), with similar foliage, except that two opposite leaves may be found almost seated near the middle of its hairy stem, has its flowers rather distantly scattered on the raceme, and their fine petals deeply cut like fringe. Both species maybe found in bloom at the same time, offering an opportunity for comparison to the confused novice. Now, tiarella, meaning a little tiara, and mitella, a little mitre, refer, of course, to the odd forms of their seed-cases ; but all of us are not gifted with the imaginative eyes of Linnaeus, who named the plants. Xenophon's assertion that the royal tiara or turban of the Persians was encircled with a crown helps us no more to see what Linnaeus saw in the one case than the fact that the papal mitre is encircled by three crowns helps in the other. And as for the lofty, two-peaked cap worn by bishops in the Roman Church, a dozen plants, with equal propriety, might be said to wear it.