Coptis trifolia (Three-leaf Goldthread)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist mossy woods, conifer swamps, bogs
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:3 to 6 inches

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flowers] 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 and numerous white-tipped stamens surrounding 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: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] 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, with notched tips or shallow lobes, small teeth around the tip half, and a shiny surface. Leaves and stems are hairless.


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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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Boot Lake SNA


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Bob - Bog just w.of Judge Magney SP, N of Paradise Beach
on: 2014-06-05 08:56:13

May 31, at the base of a rotted stump in bog a few hundred feet inland from Lake Superior (on private cabin property) a first for me, will need to spend more time in the bog.

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