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):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
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.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
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?