(Coptis trifolia) Crowfoot family [Buttercup family]

Flowers - Small white, solitary, on a slender scape 3 to 6 in.

high. Sepals 5 to 7, petal-like, falling early; petals 5 or 6,

inconspicuous, like club-shaped columns; stamens numerous carpels

few, the stigmatic surfaces curved. Leaves: From the base, long

petioled, divided into 3 somewhat fan-shaped, shining, evergreen,

sharply toothed leaflets. Rootstock: Thread-like, long, bright

yellow, wiry, bitter.

Preferred Habitat - Cool mossy bogs, damp woods.

Flowering Season - May-August

Distribution - Maryland and Minnesota northward to circumpolar


The shining, evergreen, thrice-parted leaves with which this

charming little plant carpets its retreats form the best of

backgrounds to set off the fragile, tiny white flowers that look

like small wood anemones. Why does the gold-thread choose to

dwell where bees and butterflies, most flowers' best friends,

rarely penetrate? Doubtless because the cool, damp habitat that

develops abundant fungi also perfectly suits the fungus gnats and

certain fungus-feeding beetles that are its principal

benefactors. "The entire flower is constructed with reference to

their visits," says Mr. Clarence Moores Weed; "the showy sepals

attract their attention; the abnormal petals furnish them food;

the many small stamens with white anthers and white pollen

furnish a surface to walk upon, and a foreground in which the

yellow nectar-cups are distinctly visible; the long-spreading

recurved stigmas cover so large a portion of the blossom that it

would be difficult even for one of the tiny visitors to take many

steps without contact with one of them." On a sunny June day the

lens usually reveals at least one tiny gnat making his way from

one club-shaped petal to another - for the insignificant petals

are mere nectaries - and transferring pollen from flower to


Dig up a plant, and the fine tangled, yellow roots tell why it

was given its name. In the good old days when decoctions of any

herb that was particularly nauseous were swallowed in the simple

faith that virtue resided in them in proportion to their

revolting taste, the gold-thread's bitter roots furnished a tea

much valued as a spring tonic and as a cure for ulcerated throats

and canker-sore mouths of helpless children.

GOLDENRODS GREAT LOBELIA BLUE CARDINALFLOWER facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail