A tiny gem: Hacquetia epipactis

Never has a plant been so misrepresented by a photo; this is a really lovely little plant and yet my photo of my plant, taken in haste, does not even begin to do it justice. I have my excuses but I am still ashamed.

Hacquetia is a hardy herbaceous plant with a name almost bigger than the plant itself. It is native to the European Alps and named after Belsazar Hacquet, an Austrian writer about alpines so very aptly named. It is the only species in the genus and it is a plant that is hardly likely to be confused with any other. From numerous, scaly buds emerge short stems with a ruff of five or six tiny leaves to form a neat saucer for a tight dome of tiny yellow flowers. It can be just a few centimetres high at first but can reach the heady heights of 10cm when fully grown, with extra, sterile ruffs of leaves.

In time each plant can spread into a clump up to 30cm across.

My plant had a tough start in life. Last year the newly planted bits were dug up and eaten by rabbits which is why I put the remaining fragments under a potentilla to keep it in shade and also prevent me digging it up by accident. I am still doing too much heavy work to sensibly plant such a tiny gem.

Having said all that, this is one tough cookie, that will grow in shade under shrubs and is not at all difficult to please. It would be perfect for  paving in shade too. I hope it settles down now and will be more photogenic and less covered in compost in future.

Geoff’s rating


Garden rating

6/10 – a bit diminutive to make much of a show.



2 Comments on “A tiny gem: Hacquetia epipactis”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    March 14, 2020 at 11:24 am #

    Very pretty little thing. I have found it slow to increase but it’s still going so I won’t complain too much. The plain green plant grows better for me – perhaps a more suitable position!

    • thebikinggardener
      March 23, 2020 at 1:55 pm #

      The variegated one (‘Thor’) is a lovely thing but I need to make some cosy, sheltered places where it won’t get squashed before I risk something so fine.

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