Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean)
|Also known as:||Bog Bean, Marsh Trefoil, Water Shamrock|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; bogs, wetlands, along shores, shallow water|
|Bloom season:||April - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Showing raceme of 10 to 20 ½-inch white trumpet-like flowers on a stout, smooth, green stem arising from the rootstock. The 5-petalled flowers are fused into a short tubular throat, petals flaring back revealing wiry bearded hairs on the inner surface. 5 white stamens with dark reddish to black tips are attached to the tube wall, alternating with the petals; a long slender style emerges from the throat of the tube. Flowers have a stout stalk and bloom from the bottom up; sometimes flowers are tinged purple.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are palmately compound in 3s, attached at the rootstock, sometimes several inches away from a flowering stem. At blooming time leaflets are 1½ to 2½ inches long and to 1 inch wide, becoming larger later in the season. Leaflets are oval to oblong with smooth, sometimes wavy edges. Leaf stem is smooth, sheathed, and shorter than the flowering stem.
Notes:Like a woodland spring ephemeral, the bloom period for Buckbean is brief and then gone for the season. I first ran into this at Cedar Creek Natural History Center in 2004 (was not happy with the images) but not again until this last season (2010), though it's not like I spend all my time in the swamps. This species is offered in the aquatic garden trade and I had hoped to catch it in bloom at Baldwin Lake Perenniels in Lino Lakes—still I missed it in recent years. Finally this season out looking for long-bracted orchid, Dactylorhiza viridis, we found all the buckbean we should ever want. While garden images will serve for ID purposes, it's nothing like finding it in situ.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin County
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?