Woodland plants that resemble false Solomon's seal (Smilacina) in foliage. Interesting, heavily spotted, inch-long flowers appear at leaf joints and in terminal clusters in late summer and fall. They are complex in structure, somewhat orchidlike: Each blossom has three petals and three sepals, with a column of decorative stamens and styles rising from the center. Need soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Excellent companions to ferns, foamflower (Tiarella), and hostas. Unfortunately (like hostas), they are a favorite snack for voles.
T. formosana (T. stolonifera). From Taiwan. To 212 ft. tall. Spreads by aboveground runners to form a clump 112 ft. or wider, but is not invasive. More erect than T. hirta, with flowers mostly in terminal clusters. Leaves are green, mottled with deeper green; brown or maroon buds open to white to pale lilac flowers spotted with purple. 'Autumn Glow' has green leaves with a wide yellow border; flowers are purple. 'Gates of Heaven' has bright golden foliage and purple flowers. Late-blooming 'Variegata' has lavender blossoms and gold-edged leaves. For the plant sold as T. f. 'Amethystina', see T. lasiocarpa.
T. hirta. From Japan. To 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; it lacks runners. Arching stems bear pale green, softly hairy foliage. White to pale lilac blossoms are peppered with purple; they appear in leaf joints all along the stems. The following are somewhat shorter than the species: 'Miyazaki' bears pink to white flowers with crimson spots; 'Miyazaki Gold' is similar but has gold-edged leaves. Possible hybrid 'White Towers' (1212 ft. tall) has pure white blossoms with purple stamens.
T. hybrids. Specialty nurseries offer many interesting hybrids, including the following. 'Dark Beauty' ('Purple Beauty'), to 4 ft. tall, 1 ft. wide, has large leaves and purple-and-white spotted flowers. 'Empress', to 2 ft. high and 1 ft. wide, bears large, spidery-petaled blossoms in white heavily spotted with purple. 'Tojen', to 3 ft. high and 2 ft. wide, has large flowers that are lavender-purple at the tips, fading to white in the center. 'Blue Wonder' has blue and deep purple speckles on creamy-white petals. 'Lightning Strike', to 2 ft. tall and wide, has pale lavender blooms with purple speckles; its leaves are heavily streaked with gold.
T. lasiocarpa. From Taiwan. Formerly sold as T. formosana 'Amethystina'. Upright grower to 3 ft. tall and wide; dark stems are set with large (to 12 in. long), glossy, green leaves speckled with purple. From midsummer to early fall, stems are topped by branched sprays of inch-long, white-throated flowers marked with blue and purple. Needs more sun than other toad lilies; thrives in part sun to light shade.
T. macropoda. From China. Upright growth to 2 ft. high, 16 in. wide. Rounded gray leaves are unspotted. Profuse show of white flowers with purple spots and backward-pointing petals. 'Tricolor' has gray leaves striped with pink and white.