Coptis trifolia (Three-leaf Goldthread)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist mossy woods, conifer swamps, bogs|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 inches|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single flower 3/8 to ½ inch across at the end of a long naked stem, with 5 to 7 white petal-like sepals that drop off early. Numerous white-tipped stamens surround bright green styles that are curled at the tip. Alternating with the sepals are golden yellow club-shaped petals that are shorter than the stamens, with a cup-shaped tip that holds nectar. A plant typically has 1 flowering stem but may have multiples.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are evergreen, basal, palmately compound in groups of 3 at the end of a naked stem that is shorter than the flower stem. Leaflets are fan-shaped, up to 1 inch long, hairless, with notched tips or shallow lobes, small teeth around the tip half, a shiny surface, and a minute stalk. Stems are slender and hairless.
Fruit is a candelabra array of 4 to 7 pods, each about 1/3 inch long, generally elliptic with a long taper to a pointed tip, the beak mostly straight, and on a stalk about as long as the pod.
This is an early and swift bloomer; the petal-like sepals do not last very long, making this species hard to catch at the right time. The common name Goldthread comes from its root system, which is thread-like and bright yellow.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Goldthread plant in a pine forest
- Goldthread plants hiding in the grass
- Goldthread among the oak leaves
- evergreen leaves in early spring
- view from the side
- more flowers
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Boot Lake SNA, Anoka County
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?