Thalictrum dioicum (Early Meadow Rue)

Plant Info
Also known as: Quicksilver-weed
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:8 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle

[photo of female flowers] Male and female flowers are on separate plants. Flowers of both sexes are petal-less and about ¼ inch across, with 4 or 5 light green sepals that drop off early on the female flowers. The female flowers have 10 thick thread-like white to greenish pistils.

[photo of male flowers] Male flowers have numerous dangling yellowish green to purplish brown stamens with pale yellow tips that turn brown with age. For both sexes, flowers are in large, open, branching clusters in the upper plant.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 4 times compound in groups of 3 or 5. Leaflets are ½ to ¾ inch long and about as wide, hairless with a slender stalk. Each leaflet is notched or lobed at the tip end in 3 to 12 rounded parts. Attachment at the stem is alternate, while the leaflets are oppositely attached. Stems are round, may have a waxy bloom, are hairless or sometimes glandular.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Clusters of dry seed form on the female plants. Seed is about ¼ inch long, green and generally oval with distinct vertical ridges and a curved brown stub of a pistil at the tip.


Early Meadow Rue is similar to Tall Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum), but the latter is a much taller plant (to 6 feet), has leaflets with only 2 or 3 lobes, and doesn't start blooming until about the time Early Meadow Rue goes to seed in June. Also similar is Veiny Meadow Rue (Thalictrum venulosum), which also blooms later and has leaflets with only 3 to 5 lobes.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Lynn - St. Louis Park
on: 2010-05-01 19:22:55

Early Meadow Rue began growing in my front yard garden about two years ago. It's a volunteer from somewhere. But a delightful plant nonetheless.

Posted by: Linda - Dakota County
on: 2011-07-15 13:56:59

I've found this growing in both Kaposia Park and Simon's Ravine Park in South St Paul, but you have to get off the main trail in order to see it. I also found young plants growing in Sunfish Lake Park Reserve in Washington County, as well as deep within Maplewood Nature Center's complex of trails. I've seen a very few plants in the woods across the road from our home in South St Paul, but didn't see any there this year. I did collect some seed from a plant in Simon's Ravine a few years ago, and it did start successfully from seed in my shady garden. While the flowers aren't showy, I just love the airy foliage!

Posted by: Melody - Brook Park
on: 2014-05-28 18:10:30

In Kanabec county, all over my yard and in the woods surrounding. Beautiful fairy-looking plant.

Posted by: Pamela - Oak Grove, Anoka County
on: 2015-06-09 21:55:47

This grows in my yard all over. My 'yard' is nearly 10 acres, mostly wet, but has some woods and upland woods, mixed hardwood. I find this growing in the damp woods mostly, but also in the upland areas a little. Beautiful plant.

Posted by: frieda k - st. laurent, manitoba
on: 2017-06-24 09:01:15

have seen this plant for a number of years. Have yet to find the female plant, but must be around, in order for me to see the male plant! June 20 2017

Posted by: cheryl b - Elm Creek Park Reserve
on: 2018-05-18 04:43:06

This is finally blooming this year in an oak forest remanent at Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Posted by: Kristi Bolstad - Hubbard County
on: 2018-08-02 18:03:31

Always excited to see this plant in our woods! Would love to see it in flower.

Posted by: Ann Senart - Burnsville MN
on: 2020-05-22 07:15:40

Flowing down Buckhill in Burnsville, MN the dainty little flowers look so beautiful.

Posted by: ella - Stillwater
on: 2021-04-27 14:40:54

I bought this plant from a local native plant nursery, and planted it in a partial shady border. Years later it seems to be slowly spreading, but I just realized that this species is dioecious, male flowers and female flowers on separate plants, hence the name T. dioicum. I have the male plant, and it must be spreading by underground root system (how else?). It is a beautiful airy plant as it unfolds, with purplish green stems and flower buds that will open and look like tiny dangling tassels. I will move a few plants to other parts of the yard and boulevard bed, and want to find some seed and hopefully get some female flowers going!

Posted by: gary - Moose Lake in Charlton County
on: 2022-08-03 09:44:20

Several plants where the Munger Trail passes through some woods.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.