E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Menyanthes trifoliata L.
Menyanthaceae (Buckbean family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #65959)

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Distribution of Menyanthes trifoliata
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Species Information

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Perennial semi-aquatic herb from a thick rhizome, this covered with old leaf bases; stems prostrate or ascending, glabrous, 15-40 cm long/tall.
Basal leaves alternate, divided into 3 elliptic leaflets, these short-stalked, coarsely toothed, 1-5 cm wide, glabrous, the leaf stalks 10-30 cm long, crowded near the base of the flowering stem; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence of many flowers in simple or compound, terminal clusters on naked stalks 5-30 cm long; corollas white, purple-tinged, scaly-haired on the inner surface, 5-6 lobed, the lobes 5-7 mm long; calyces 3-5 mm long, cleft nearly to the base into 5 lobes.
Capsules, oval, thick-walled, many-seeded; seeds brownish-yellow, smooth, shiny, buoyant.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Bogs, fens, marshes, shallow ponds and lakesides in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common throughout BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MO, CO and CA; Iceland, Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Menyanthes trifoliata

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 851 1750
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 40
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 135 350
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 7 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(39), CDF(12), CWH(77), ESSF(33), ICH(97), IDF(28), MH(8), MS(41), SBPS(18), SBS(152)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar forb; (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on wet to very wet, nitrogen-medium soils within boreal. wet temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Often dominant in aquatic communities along freshwater lakes; occasional on water-collecting sites. Characteristic of wetlands.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Menyanthes trifoliata var. minor Raf.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References