Definitions

Heuchera sanguinea

Heuchera

[hyoo-ker-uh]

The genus Heuchera 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 uses

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.

Selected species

Gallery

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