- Name also: Heart-leaf Bergenia, Heartleaf, Elephant-eared Saxifrage, Elephant’s Ears, Pigsqueak, Siberian Tea, Mongolian Tea, Leather Bergenia, Winter-blooming Bergenia
(most of these names are used both with B. cordifolia and B. crassifolia)
- Family: Saxifrage Family – Saxifragaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rhizome stout, creeping.
- Height: 10–40 cm (4–15 in.). Stalk leafless scape.
- Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), pink–red, 15–25 mm (0.6–1 in.) wide; petals 5, round, clearly overlapping. Calyx 5-lobed, base round, bowl-shaped. Stamens 10. Styles 2. Inflorescence a globose, dense, compound cyme.
- Leaves: In basal rosette, long-stalked, overwintering. Blade quite round, cordate, thick, leathery, usually wrinkled, margin wavy, slightly crenate.
- Fruit: 2-parted capsule.
- Habitat: Gardens, parks, wasteland. Ornamental, sometimes an escape.
- Flowering time: (May–)June–July.
Bergenia grows in almost every Finnish garden, and is at least by appearance familiar to all Finns. It is instantly recognizable by its big, leathery, wide, heart-shaped, leaves that remain green throughout the winter. Its beautiful rose-red flowers are in wide inflorescences at the top of the scapes.
Bergenia is native to East Asia. It is an undemanding garden plant that doesn’t mind being neglected and uncared for in quite hostile conditions. It can also spread by root cuttings to garden waste dumps, and sometimes also to urban forest.
Bergenia crassifolia is noticeably rarer in Finland than Bergenia cordifolia, both in gardens and in nature. Its leaves are elliptic with a wedge-shaped or rounded base rather than widely cordate like its relative. Additionally, its raceme is one-sided and its flowers open earlier than Bergenia’s and don’t overlap much.