Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Coptis trifolia

Threeleaf goldthread, Three-leaf goldthread, Canker root

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Coptis trifolia (Threeleaf goldthread)
Smith, R.W.
Small and slender, this woodland perennial bears a single flower at the end of a 6 in., leafless stalk. Each flower has four to seven, petal-like sepals tinged with purple on their outer surface, and numerous white stamens. Basal, evergreen leaves, divided into three leaflets, occur on long petioles.

The common name refers to the golden-yellow underground stem that both Native Americans and colonists chewed to treat mouth sores (hence another common name for the plant, Canker-root). It was also made into a tea for use as an eyewash.

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7 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AK , CT , IN , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OR , PA , RI , VT , WV , WI
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to Man., s. to NJ, WV mts., n. OH & n. IN
Native Habitat: Mossy woods & swamps

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, cold, acid soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available

Last Update: 2012-07-02