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Coptis trifolia (L.) Salisb.
Threeleaf goldthread, Three-leaf goldthread, Canker root
Synonym(s): Coptis groenlandica, Coptis trifolia ssp. groenlandica, Coptis trifolia var. groenlandica
USDA Symbol: COTR2
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
, WV Canada: MB
, PE Native Distribution:
Lab. to Man., s. to NJ, WV
mts., n. OH
& n. IN Native Habitat:
Mossy woods & swamps
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, cold, acid soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
Sow seeds outside as soon as they are ripe. Seeds will germinate after one winter and flower
after two. Propagation is also possible by root cuttings. Seed Collection:
Not Available Seed Treatment:
Not Available Commercially Avail:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2012-07-02
Research By: TWC Staff