Coral Bells
San Gabriel Mountains coralbells.jpg
Heuchera elegans in Mount Wilson (California)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Unranked: Angiosperms
Unranked: Eudicots
Unranked: Core eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Heuchera

See text

The genus Heuchera [1] includes at least 50 species of herbaceous perennial plants in the family Saxifragaceae, all native to North America. Common names include alumroot and coral bells. They have palmately lobed leaves on long petioles, and a thick, woody rootstock. The genus was named after Johann Heinrich von Heucher (1677–1746), an 18th century German physician.

Alumroot species grow in varied habitats, so some species look quite different from one another, and have varying preferences regarding temperature, soil, and other natural factors. H. maxima is found on the Channel Islands of California, where it grows on rocky, windy, saline-washed ocean shores. H. sanguinea, called coral bells because of its terra cotta-colored flowers, can be found in the warm, dry canyons of Arizona. Gardeners and horticulturists have developed a multitude of hybrids between various Heuchera species. There is an extensive array of blossom sizes, shapes, and colors, foliage types, and geographic tolerances.

Food and medicinal usesEdit

Though tangy and slightly astringent, the leaves may be used to liven up bland greens.

Natives of the Northwest U.S. have used tonic derived of Alumroot roots to aid digestive difficulties, but extractions from the root can also be used to stop minor bleeding, reduce inflammation, and otherwise shrink moist tissues after swelling.


The majority of Heuchera sold for gardens are hybrids of H. americana, such as 'Green Spice' (see illustration). [2] The original 'Purple palace' discovered in a Royal Palace in England is believed to be a H micrantha x H villosa hybrid, (New England Guide 2000) which was then crossed with H americana. A further group of hybrids arose from crossing Heuchera with Tiarella, to form Heucherella.

Selected speciesEdit

References Edit

  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. Armitage's Garden Perennials

External links Edit

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