Menyanthes trifoliata L.
Menyanthes trifoliata L. var. minor Raf.
Buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil
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.
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
Menyanthes trifoliata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Dec 2020.
Range: Zones 3-10: