Home   About Us   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Plant Books
FloraFinder uses cookies only for correct operation. More info. Okay

Menyanthes trifoliata L.

Buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyMenyanthaceaeFrom Ancient Greek μηνύανθος (mēnúanthos, “a water plant”), possibly from μήνη (mḗnē, “month, crescent moon”) or μηνύω (mēnúō, “to disclose”) + ἄνθος (ánthos, “flower”) in reference to the sequential opening of flowers on the inflorescence
GenusMenyanthesAccording to Umberto Quattrocchi, Menyanthos was a classical Greek name for a water plant and he suggests that the derivation is either from mene, “moon, crescent moon” and anthos, “flower,” or from minyos, “small, tiny” and anthos

About plant names...

This North American native plant favors shallow water, such as bogs, fens, or the edges of ponds and lakes.

Plants: Mats of leaflets, grouped in threes, rise above the shallow water. The mats can be extensive.

Leaves: Each leaf is a trifoliate cluster on a petiole (stem) 4-10" (10-25 cm) long. Each leaflet in the cluster is up to 1½-2" (3.8-5 cm) long and 1" (2.5 cm) wide. Leaflets are oval to oblong in shape, with smooth or slightly scalloped edges.

Flowers: Flowers are in dense clusters of 10-20 atop stems up to 12" (30 cm) tall. Each flower is white (sometimes tinged with pink, blue or purple), five-petaled, star-shaped, and covered with distinctive wiry white hairs. Each flower is about ½" (1.3 cm) in diameter, with a tubular base. There are five white stamens in the center of each flower, tipped with dark reddish to black. Flowers appear from May to June.

Fruits: Oval-shaped, ⅛-¼" (6-9 mm) in size, in clusters of 10-20.

Edibility: The root masses, treated to remove an acrid taste, have been pressed into service as a famine food in the past. However, salicylic acid in the plants makes them quite toxic if eaten in quantity.

Medical: Bitter teas prepared from the leaves have been used for a wide variety of treatments, notably loss of appe­tite and peptic discomfort. There are many other unproven folk uses.

Online References:


Minnesota Wildflowers

The Missouri Botanical Garden



Plants for a Future


Multiple Authors, PDR for Herbal Medicines, Thomson Healthcare Inc., 2007, p. 118

Menyanthes trifoliata L. var. minor Raf.


Menyanthes trifoliata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Dec 2020.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil)

12/8/2020 · Bangor City Forest, Bangor, Maine · By Susan Cole Kelly

Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean, bog bean, marsh trefoil)

9/28/2013 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia Naitonal Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
≈ 11 × 8" (26 × 21 cm)

Range: Zones 3-10:

About this map...