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Menyanthes trifoliata L.

Menyanthes trifoliata L. var. minor Raf.

Buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyMenyanthaceaeFrom Ancient Greek μηνύανθος (mēnúanthos, “a water plant”), possibly from μήνη (mḗnē, “month, crescent moon”) or μηνύω (mēnúō, “to disclose”) + ἄνθος (ánthos, “flower”) in reference to the sequential opening of flowers on the inflorescence
GenusMenyanthesAccording to Umberto Quattrocchi, Menyanthos was a classical Greek name for a water plant and he suggests that the derivation is either from mene, “moon, crescent moon” and anthos, “flower,” or from minyos, “small, tiny” and anthos
SpeciestrifoliataThree-leaved

About plant names...

This North American native plant favors shallow water, such as bogs, fens, or the edges of ponds and lakes.

Plants: Mats of leaflets, grouped in threes, rise above the shallow water. The mats can be extensive.

Leaves: Each leaf is a trifoliate cluster on a petiole (stem) 4-10" (10-25 cm) long. Each leaflet in the cluster is up to 1½-2" (3.8-5 cm) long and 1" (2.5 cm) wide. Leaflets are oval to oblong in shape, with smooth or slightly scalloped edges.

Flowers: Flowers are in dense clusters of 10-20 atop stems up to 12" (30 cm) tall. Each flower is white (sometimes tinged with pink, blue or purple), five-petaled, star-shaped, and covered with distinctive wiry white hairs. Each flower is about ½" (1.3 cm) in diameter, with a tubular base. There are five white stamens in the center of each flower, tipped with dark reddish to black. Flowers appear from May to June.

Fruits: Oval-shaped, ⅛-¼" (6-9 mm) in size, in clusters of 10-20.

Edibility: The root masses, treated to remove an acrid taste, have been pressed into service as a famine food in the past. However, salicylic acid in the plants makes them quite toxic if eaten in quantity.

Medical: Bitter teas prepared from the leaves have been used for a wide variety of treatments, notably loss of appe­tite and peptic discomfort. There are many other unproven folk uses.

Online References:

Menyanthes trifoliata on first-nature.com

Menyanthes trifoliata at Minnesota Wildflowers

Menyanthes trifoliata at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Menyanthes trifoliata on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org

Menyanthes trifoliata on botanyphoto.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca

Menyanthes trifoliata on Plants for a Future

References:

Multiple Authors, PDR for Herbal Medicines, Thomson Healthcare Inc., 2007, p. 118

Menyanthes trifoliata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Dec 2020.

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Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil)

12/8/2020 · Bangor City Forest, Bangor, Maine · By Susan Cole Kelly

Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil)

9/28/2013 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia Naitonal Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
≈ 15 × 10" (37 × 25 cm)

Range: Zones 3-10:

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