Piggy Back Plant

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Piggy Back Plant, BC Coastal Region

Piggy Back Plant, BC Coastal Region
Piggyback Plant, Photo By Robert Logan

The Piggy Back Plant natural habitat is an area with cool, moist soil that is protected from bright sunlight. They commonly grow under the canopy of tall trees. While each plant is under a foot in height, it can slowly spread forming a large colony.

Its stems grow at or below the soil surface, with the leaves seemingly arising from the soil. Each leaf is broadly star-shaped with 5 to 7 toothed lobes, pubescent, and rough to the touch. The evergreen leaves become tattered and sad though the winter, but the new spring foliage quickly covers them.

The small, greenish to purple blossoms are borne on long stalks and are held well above the foliage. They aren’t particularly showy, and could be described as dull. The most unusual feature of Piggy Back Plant is their means of vegetative reproduction, which has led to the variety of descriptive common names for this species.

Buds develop at the base of each leaf’s blade where it meets the leaf stalk. From these buds new plant lets develop, piggy back style, on the mother leaf. They bend under the weight of the blade. When the blade touches the ground, the plant let quickly develops a root system and becomes an independent plant. The net result is a large colony of plants.

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