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Heartleaf Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Life history

Species overview

Heartleaf Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found in very rich, well-drained mesic hardwood forests (sometimes with hemlock present). Blooming occurs early May through early June; fruiting occurs late June through late July. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early June.

Synonyms: Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia, Tiarella cordifolia var. austrina, T. cordifolia var. bracteata, T. cordifolia ssp. collina, T. macrophylla, T. wherryi


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Although its leaves are similar to Mitella diphylla (bishop's cap), Tiarella cordifolia has entire (vs. deeply cleft) petals.
  • Flower characteristics: Petals white, clawed, linear to elliptic; stamens 10.
  • Fruit characteristics: Fruit thin-walled, the larger carpal 10 mm, the smaller one often only half as long.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal, broadly cordate-ovate to subrotund, shallowly 3 to 5 lobed, sparsely hairy, with rounded teeth around the margin.


  • Blooming phenology: early May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: late June through late July
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through early June


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Betula alleghaniensis, Tilia americana, Tsuga canadensis, Mitella diphylla, Hydrophyllum virginianum, Galium triflorum, Claytonia spp., Erythronium spp., Carya cordiformis.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Heartleaf Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Tiarella cordifolia in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in very rich, well-drained mesic hardwood forests (sometimes with hemlock present).
  • Soils: Loamy soil.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Heartleaf Foamflower. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Heartleaf Foamflower. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
North Central Forest 3
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal 2

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.


Heartleaf Foamflower Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Heartleaf Foamflower Photo.

Photo © John Kohout.

Heartleaf Foamflower Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Heartleaf Foamflower Photo.

Photo © John Kohout.

Heartleaf Foamflower Photo.

Heart-leaved foam-flower reaches the westernmost extremities of its range in rich mesic forests in a few northeastern Wisconsin counties.

Photo © John Kohout.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition