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Genus Alchemilla for the Garden

Alchemilla rainAlchemilla is a genus of herbaceous perennials in the rose family (Rosaceae) that also includes cherries, spirea, and hawthorn. Most of the three hundred species of the genus live in cool areas of Europe and Asia with a few in Africa and the Americas. The plants form sprawling clumps of light green to blue green leaves that are palmately lobed or divided, softly hairy and sometimes toothed. They are outstanding for their ability to hold water rain water in droplets after a shower. The ¼ inch wide flowers lack petals, are green to yellow, and are carried in clusters above the foliage in late spring to summer. Alchemilla likes partial shade and consistently moist, well-drained soil. It readily self-seeds but can also be propagated by division in spring before flowering. The generic name, Alchemilla, comes from the fact that the plant was popular with alchemist who believed that they had healing power.

Mountain Mantle (A. alpina)
Alchemilla_alpinaMountain mantle is a neat, low growing plant native to northern Europe and Greenland where it grows in alpine meadows, cliffs, stream banks and other moist places. The leaves are palmately divided to the base into five to seven leaflets and have silver edges. The flowers are lime green and produced in early summer over a long bloom time.

Size: 6-8” H x 12” W
Bloom Color: Lime green
Hardiness: Zones 3-7
Photo: Wikipedia Commons manfred.sause@volloeko.de

A. conjuncta
Alchemilla conjunctaSimilar to A. alpina in leaf appearance, silver lady’s mantle differs in size. Native to the southwest Alps and Jura Mountains in France and Switzerland, it has palmate, blue-green leaves with seven to nine lobes. The edges of the leaves are toothed and the underside is covered with silvery hairs that form a silver edge on the upper side. The tiny green-yellow flowers are carried in billowy panicles on sixteen inch stems above the foliage from late spring to early summer.

Size: 16” H x 12” W
Bloom Color: Yellow-green
Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Lady’s Mantle (A. mollis)
alchemilla_mollisThis popular perennial is native to Asia Minor where it grows along streams and in forests. It has gray-green, six inch wide, fan-shaped leaves that are small-toothed and lobed 1/3 way to the base. The soft hairs give the leaves a velvety feel but in the rain and humidity of the South cause rot. Nice used as an edger or ground cover. The chartreuse flowers are produced in abundance in clusters up to nine inches long and are beautiful in both fresh and dried arrangements. A, mollis is generally considered the most garden worthy of the genus due to the bright color and large size of the flower clusters.

Size: Up to 18” H x 24″ W.
Bloom Color: Chartreuse
Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Common Lady’s Mantle (A. vulgaris)alchemilla-vulgarisSimilar to A. mollis but less hairy and with more deeply lobed leaves and smaller, yellow green flowers.

Size: 12” H
Bloom Color: Yellow green
Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Recommended Reading:

Herbaceous Perennial Plants: A Treatise on their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes