Hosta 'Tortifrons'

This is a small size sport of H. 'Tardiflora' from Dr. Fumio Maekawa of Japan that was registered by The American Hosta Society on his behalf in 2002. It grows 8 inches high by 17 inches wide with very narrow elliptic or lanceolate shape leaves that are contorted, have rough texture and thick substance. The pale bluish lavender flowers bloom in September followed by viable seeds.

According to The Hostapedia by Mark Zilis (2009), "...has probably existed for more than seventy years, it still draws the attention of hostaphiles for its contorted reverts to 'Tardiflora' when propagated by tissue culture... it was thought that seedlings of 'Tortifrons' did not inherit its twisted nature, but Bob Solberg of Green Hill Farm in North Carolina proved everybody wrong with 'Corkscrew'."

The New Encyclopedia of Hostas by Diana Grenfell (2009) states in its Hosta Hybrids for Connoisseurs chapter: "Slow to increase. Cannot be successfully reproduced by micro-propagation (tissue culture), so it remains a rarity...The narrow, distorted leaves are held erect and have a distinct twist caused by an aberration in the make-up of the skin cells."

Nomenclature changes recommended in the 1991 book The Genus Hosta by W. George Schmid and accepted by The American Hosta Society would update names as follows: H. tortifrons is now H. 'Tortifrons' and H. tardiflora is H. 'Tardiflora'.


An article about Fall Bloomers by Herb Benedict and Jim Wilkins in The Hosta Journal (1991 Vol. 22 No. 1) states that, "Here are some of the fall blooming plants we grow...(listed in the order of bloom times in Michigan).


1) H. kikutii A medium size plant densely flowering with white blooms. The flowers are equally arranged around the central axis of the raceme so that the bloom scapes resembles a bottle brush or pony tail...We are growing two named varieties, 'Hirao-59' and 'Finlandia'.
2) H. 'Fall Bouquet' Small, green plant, leaves slightly undulated, lavender scape and blooms, floriferous.
3) H. longipes Small green plant, densely flowering with a tall stiff bloom scape. The flowers are lavender and the leaves are green.
4) H. gracillima Funnel-shaped, light lavender flowers. A miniature green plant, with shiny surface.
5) H. 'Iwa Soules' Iwa means rock, and this plant was imported by Marjorie Soules, from Japan. It is a small green plant with lavender flowers.
6) H. tortifrons In the same section (Picnolepis) as H. longipes and H. rupifraga. Distinctive small plant, with twisted green leaves and lavender flowers.
7) H. 'Fused Veins' Small, green leaves often with ╝ inch margin which is a lighter green. The lance shaped leaves are undulated and the veins come together regularly. The flowers are mauve and the scape is sometimes branched.
8) H. rupifraga Small, medium green, with thick, leathery, ovate leaves. Densely flowering with purple flowers. 'Urajiro', 'Grand Slam', 'Maruba Iwa'
9) H. tardiflora (now H. 'Tardiflora') This small hosta is the last to bloom for us. Its leaves are shiny, dark green and lance shaped. The flowers are light lavender and borne in abundance on 12 inch scapes.

In an article in The Hosta Journal (2001 Vol. 32 No. 1), Tom Micheletti, former President of The American Hosta Society took on the task of listing the "Classic Hosta Cultivars" through the year 2003. He decided to divide these into categories including: Green, Blue, Yellow (Gold, White-Margined, Yellow-Margined, White Medio-Variegated and Yellow Medio-Variegated.

Of course all species of hosta are green, and they are all classics. Those that are readily available to gardeners are: H. longipes, H. kikutii, H. montana, H. plantaginea, H. ventricosa, H. venusta and H. yingeri.

Classic Green Hostas
  1. H. 'Candy Hearts' has dark-green heart-shaped leaves.
  2. H. 'Donahue Piecrust' is one of the best piecrust-margined hostas.
  3. H. 'Fortunei Hyacinthina' is the precursor to many sports.
  4. H. 'Green Fountain' has long pointed flowing leaves.
  5. H. 'Joseph', if you want shiny dark-green leaves, this the plant for you. It has masses of lavender flowers to boot!
  6. H. 'Hirao Majesty', H. 'Hirao Splendor' and H. 'Hirao Supreme' are each distinctive.
  7. H. 'Honeybells' is one of the first fragrant hybrid hostas.
  8. H. 'Invincible' is not indestructible, but very distinctive with shiny dark-green leaves and large fragrant flowers.
  9. H. 'Lakeside Black Satin' is noted for every dark-green satiny leaves.
  10. H. 'Lancifolia' is probably the most widely grown hosta.
  1. H. 'Leather Sheen' has dark-green leathery leaves.
  2. H. 'Maraschino Cherry' is another dark-green, but just wait till the flowers appear in late summer on dark, cherry red petioles!
  3. H. 'Elatior' is the one, if you like big hostas. There are a couple of look-alikes, but this one's flowers grow straight up rather than sideway from the plant.
  4. H. 'Pearl Lake' is an old time blue green that has staying power.
  5. H. 'Regal Rhubarb' is one of the first hybrids to have red petioles.
  6. H. 'Royal Standard' -- who can fault this plain green, sun-tolerant hosta in late summer when masses of pure white fragrant flowers appear?
  7. H. 'Second Wind' is a plain green sport of a popular variegated plant, but distinctive and showy in its own right.
  8. H. 'Sparkling Burgundy' is another green with delightful flowers and red stems.
  9. H. 'Tortifrons' is like no other hosta!
  10. H. 'Undulata Erromena' is the green sport of the white-margined hosta that Grandma grew.

This is quite an extensive list of distinctive cultivars. Many have been popular either with gardeners, landscapers and collectors for over 25 years...Their timeless beauty is why they are still kicking after all these years.

An article in The Hosta Journal (2002 Vol. 33 No. 1) reporting on a speech by Barry Yinger at the 2001 National Convention of The American Hosta Society says, "The Japanese take a different approach to hosta breeding than the Americans, creating some exciting new results. Native species, which look ugly or "peculiar" at best in the wild, are used in many Japanese hybrids, resulting in spectacular new varieties. H. 'Tortifrons' (noted for its very twisted, grass-like foliage), used in many Japanese hybrids, impairs a twist to the leaves of its offspring. One example given was H. 'Tatsumaki', meaning "tornado" which has large twisted leaves and attractive flowers."

W. George Schmid in The Hosta Journal (2009 Vol. 40 No. 2) states that, "...'Tortifrons'. This is yet another of the "difficult ones."...We think 'Tortifrons' was originally found as a wild sport. It has been in Japanese cultivation for many years but it has never been located in the wild.


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