Tricyrtis is a genus in the Liliaceae family native to moist woodlands and high elevations from eastern Asia to the Philippines. Species have creeping rhizomes, leafy stems and white to cream to light pink or lilac flowers, with reddish purple spots. Their rhizomes will form clumps, then colonies, given moist humus. Their somewhat lax stems have alternate, often clasping leaves; their bell-like flowers bloom at the tip of the stem and sometimes in the upper leaf axils. They are reminiscent of orchids, but known by the common name of toad lilies. They bloom in early autumn.
Tricyrtis formosana is from Taiwan. It is probably the species that is most grown. There are many cultivars. Photo by Paige Woodward.
Tricyrtis hirta , also known as Hairy Toad Lily, is very similar to an orchid (roots, rhizome, buds, stem, leaves and flowers). Flowers are not as long lasting as orchid flowers however. The plants are 100 to 120 cm. tall. They need partial to full shade and a consistently moist soil with a pH from acid to neutral. These plants are hardy, very easy and resistant in garden culture. They bloom from late summer to early/mid fall. They may be propagated by dividing the rhizomes during the winter resting period or started from cuttings taken in late spring and planted in a 50/50 mix of sand and peat moss. They will quickly root. All the parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. The first three photos taken October 2008 by Giorgio Pozzi are of flowers of a light purple form; the fourth shows the plants.
The next four photos taken October 2008 by Giorgio Pozzi are of a dark purple form.
These photos were taken by Mari Kitama. The second shows variety 'Alba'.
Here is a link to Farmyard Nurseries of the UK, where you can see more pictures and species of different colours. The site also provides a detailed description of tricyrtis species, varieties and cultivars in their collection.