An excellent foliage plant for shady spaces, this selection of the native piggy-back plant can light up a dark spot with its gold-speckled foliage. Tiny maroon flowers on slender stalks in spring are interesting though not super showy. The foliage doesn't reach more than a foot high with the flower stalks rising up to 2 ft. This plant has an unusual method of reproduction. New plants grow from the center of the scalloped leaves, hence the common names "piggy-back plant" and "youth on age". Needs shade with regular moisture. Tolerates root competition, making it a great plant for under redwoods. Wonderful in containers too.
From Sunshine Farm and Gardens:
Even if this plants namesake wasn't a dear friend of mine, I would be it's proponent.
A native to the West Coast of the US, this Saxifragaceae family member is a hardy perennial that has the unique habit of forming new plants in the axils of its leaves. This phenomenon is known as the ability to form gammaceous plantlets.
It's a close relative to Tellima and Heuchera.
It was discovered by Stephen Taffler, from the window of a speeding New York City taxicab as he rushed to JFK airport, no doubt behind schedule as usual, to catch a flight back home to England. As the vehicle rounded a corner "Taff" commanded the driver to STOP, the driver probably though that chain smoking "Taff" was having a heart attack and stopped immediately leaving a half inch of rubber on the ground.
What "Taff" had spotted was some golden variegation on a plant sitting on the shelf of a flower plant street vendor a hundred yards away, what an eye for detecting even the slightest variegation this man has.
"Taff" bought the plant and smuggled it back to the UK in his coat pocket.
It's been popular in the UK for many years now and is just starting to be seen here.
Most books list the hardiness as zone 6, but with a little mulch, you can grow it in zone 5. And with all of the new plants that it produces, it's very easy to bring a piece inside for the Winter in zones colder than 5. In fact many people grow it as a house plant.