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Coptis trifolia (L.) Salisb.
Threeleaf goldthread, Three-leaf goldthread, Canker root
Synonyms: Coptis groenlandica
USDA Symbol: COTR2
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
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
AK , CT , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , VT , WI , WV Canada: MB
, PE Native Distribution:
Lab. to Man., s. to NJ, WV mts., n. OH & n. IN Native Habitat:
Mossy woods & swamps USDA Native Status: L48(N), AK(N), CAN(N),
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, cold, acid soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
PropagationDescription: 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: yes
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Record Modified: 2012-07-02
Research By: TWC Staff