American Alumroot, also known as Coral Bells is a small, mounding herbaceous perennial in the Saxifragaceae family with attractive foliage color. In nature, it can be found growing in rocky forests and rock outcrops, particularly where soils are acidic.
Plant in moist rich soils in shade to part sun. Clumps should be divided every 3 to 4 years in spring or fall. The alum root has fibrous roots and a mounded rosette of attractive foliage highlighted with colorful veins or marbling. The leaves emerge in a dense spiral from a short central crown and can be green or variegated in shades of purple, bronze or cream. Flower panicles emerge in the spring on leafless stalks above the foliage. The individual tiny flowers are bell-shaped with extended stamens and are greenish or creamy with a pinkish tint.
Heucheras are drought tolerant and work well planted in small groups in the front of a border, along pathways, near a patio, in a woodland, rock, or shade garden. The foliage is high in tannins, giving it a bitter taste and making it unappetizing to deer.
Several similar Heuchera subspecies are difficult to distinguish from one another. This species has been used as a component of modern hybrids to lend hardiness, vigor, and color. Cultivars are readily available and it may be difficult to find the straight species in the trade.
This plant was selected as the 1999 NC Wildflower of the Year, a program managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden