A diminutive coastal plant surprisingly suitable for rock gardens
Latin Name: Romanzoffia tracyi
Common Name(s): Tracy’s Mistmaiden
Size: a small plant, reaching a maximum height of about 5". Tends to be shorter in full sun. Establishes colonies by spreading tubers.
Life Cycle: Perennial
Distribution: Northern California up to the very southern tip of Vancouver Island.
Light Requirements: Full sun, might appreciate some shade inland
USDA Zone: Unknown, given the habitat of rocky ocean bluffs it probably can handle a fair amount of heat and drought in the summer but might not respond well to being frozen solid. My guess would be 7–9.
Drought Tolerance: Needs to be seasonally moist, but can go dormant during dry months thus increasing the drought tolerance.
Fire Risk: Not relevant, as the plant is tiny and usually dormant during the months of greatest fire risk.
Spring walks along the Oregon coast often reveal an ephemeral and delicate plant life that often disappears in the heat of summer, perhaps best represented by Tracy’s Mistmaiden, a delicately tiny member of the Waterleaf family that grows in the harsh coastal environment. Often found on coastal bluffs, Tracy’s mistmaiden survives salt, seasonal drought, heat, and rocky soil. This charming plant has not seen much use in gardens, however, even amongst hardcore native plant enthusiasts, and as a result data on its culture in the garden is scant. When a coastal friend gave me some seeds from their garden, however, I finally had a stab at growing the plant in my Willamette Valley garden. Pictured above is a tiny chunk, taken while weeding grass out of the patch that has established itself over the past few years.
Tracy’s Mistmaiden is a relatively uncommon plant in the found mostly on rocky bluffs along the coast, including some populations along the Salish sea on the Washington/Canada border. The plant prefers moist but well drained soil and can deal with salt spray. It grows very well in full sun on the coast but might need a bit of shade if grown inland to prevent leaf scorch. Once…