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|
|USDA PLANTS database:||Minnesota county distribution map|
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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 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:
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.
Notes: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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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Boot Lake SNA
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?