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Menyanthes trifoliata L.
Synonym(s): Menyanthes trifoliata var. minor
USDA Symbol: metr3
This low perennial, 6-12 in., has three, shiny, oval leaflets, clumped at ground level. Large, long-stalked leaves and racemes or narrow clusters of white or purple-tinged, star-like flowers atop stout stalks, about as high as leaves. The white, five-petaled flowers are in an elongate cluster at the top of a single flowering stalk. The upper surface of the flower petals are covered with curved, white hairs.
This easily recognized species also occurs in Eurasia. In at least some localities, its flowers are of two kinds: those with short styles and long stamens and those with long styles and short stamens. The common name Bogbean alludes to the plants habitat and to its small, bean-like seeds; these durable seeds have been found deeply buried in bogs. The leaves were sometimes used in Europe as a substitute for hops in beer brewing, and various medicinal applications of this species have been recorded. Deer Cabbage (Fauria crista-galli), a species traditionally placed in the genus Nephrophyllidium, has similar flowers but undivided, kidney-shaped leaves; it grows in wet places on the Olympic Peninsula and around the northern Pacific Coast.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
, WY Canada: NB
, PE Native Distribution:
Transcontinental Canada, s. to DE,
n.w. NC, OH, NE, CO
Rockies & n. CA Native Habitat:
Cool bogs, pond margins & wet woods
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Wet, sometimes acidic, soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
BenefitUse Food: In
Europe, powdered buckbean roots were mixed with flour as a nutritious but bitter-tasting bread additive. More commonly, the bitter leaves were used as a substitute for hops in flavouring beer and were also boiled in honey to make mead. Through the years, buckbean has been used to treat many ailments, including jaundice, indigestion, skin diseases, scurvy, intestinal worms and rheumatism. (Kershaw) Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationDescription: Not Available
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
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.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2012-07-03
Research By: TWC Staff