Thalictrum dasycarpum (Tall Meadow Rue)

Plant Info
Also known as: Purple Meadow Rue
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; edges of woods, thickets, meadows, fens, along shores, wet ditches
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:2 to 8 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle

[photo of female flowers] Male and female flowers are usually on separate plants. Flowers of both sexes are petal-less and about 1/3 inch across, with 4 to 6 greenish-white sepals that may drop off early. The female flowers have about 10 thread-like white pistils that resemble petals.

[photo of male flowers] Male flowers have about 12 dangling white to greenish stamens with pale yellow tips that turn brown with age. For both sexes, flowers are in large open to dense branching clusters (panicles) in the upper plant.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 3 to 5 times compound in groups of 3 or 5. Leaflets are about 1 inch long, asymmetrical at the rounded base, the lateral leaflets stalkless or very short-stalked with the terminal leaflet longer stalked. Most leaflets are shallowly lobed in 2 or 3 parts, with a point at the tip of each lobe. Leaf color is blue-green and leaves are hairy on the underside. Basal and lower stem leaves are similar and long stalked, uppermost stem leaves are stalkless or nearly so. The stem is purple to varying degrees and mostly hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The female flowers form clusters of dry seed, each about ¼ inch long, narrowly egg-shaped to elliptical with distinct ribbing and a brown stub of a pistil at the top. Seed dries to dark brown.


This is the largest and most common of the Meadow Rue species in Minnesota, found across the state in moist woods, wet meadows, ditches, and floodplains. It is larger and blooms later than the related Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum), which is primarily a woodland species. Also similar is Veiny Meadow Rue (Thalictrum venulosum), which is a smaller plant that has leaves compound 3 or 4 times and leaflets with 3 to 5 lobes. Most similar is Purple Meadow Rue (Thalictrum revolutum), an uncommon species in Minnesota, which is primarily distinguished by having more densely glandular-hairy leaf stalks and flowering branches, and more prominent veins on the leaves, and is foul-smelling.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Chisago and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Sandy - Pope County, Glenwood, MN
on: 2012-06-17 23:26:46

Large plants just starting to come into full bloom on our property of 17 acres and around the neighbor's beaver pond. I have some nice photos if you would like me to E-mail you some.

Posted by: Roger - NE Anoka County
on: 2015-06-30 15:32:38

I was looking for water hemlock but all I see are hundreds of plants of tall meadow rue in damp ditches along our road in rural NE Anoka County. They started to bloom in late June.

Posted by: Donna - Duluth at Merritt Creek
on: 2016-07-05 00:14:45

Saw some that were only 1 ft tall. Photographed it for identification. Then came upon some that were an amazing 7 to 9 ft in height! Absolutely stunning!

Posted by: Isaac Johnson - Ortonville
on: 2019-07-01 09:21:25

Found this Species in Big Stone County recently. It was located in a wetland area just west of the town Odessa along Hwy 75. Big Stone County, Odessa Township, Section 30.

Posted by: Betty - Silver Bay
on: 2019-07-12 11:00:49

Volunteer in the berm at the AmericInn.

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