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

Coptis aspleniifolia Salisb.
spleenwort-leaved goldthread (fernleaf goldthread; fern-leaved goldthread)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© krista kaptein  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #43679)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Coptis aspleniifolia
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a yellow to pale brown rhizome; stems erect, 8-12 cm tall in flower, to 35 cm tall in fruit, smooth.
Evergreen, all basal, stalked, 4-17 cm long, 2- or 3-times pinnately compound, occasionally twice 3-parted, the 5 or more leaflets short- to long-stalked, 2-6 cm long, egg-shaped, deeply lobed or incised, toothed.
Inflorescence a 2- or 3-flowered cyme, the flowers nodding; bracts minute; flower stalks 1-4 cm long; petals 5-7, shorter than sepals, clawed, linear-lanceolate, bent back, flattened, nectary on inside surface near base; sepals 5-7, pale greenish-white, bent back and ascending, linear-lanceolate, 6-15 mm long, 0.3-1 mm wide; stamens 9-15.
Follicles, 6 to 10, oblong, 7-10 mm long, spreading on stalks equal to or longer than fruit; beaks curved back, less than 1 mm long; seeds dark, ellipsoid, shiny, about 2 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet forests and bogs in the lowland and montane zones; common W of the Coast-Cascade Mountains in BC; N to SW AK and S to N WA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Coptis aspleniifolia

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) 0 373 1443
Slope Gradient (%) 0 25 350
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 1 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 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: AT(1), BAFA(1), CMA(3), CWH(1078), MH(208), SBS(3), SWB(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, Pacific North American forb. Occurs in hypermaritime to maritime subalpine boreal and cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen­poor soils; its occurrence decreases with in­creasing continentality. Scattered in open-canopy coniferous forests on gleysolic or organic soils on water­receiving sites. Oxylophytic species charac­teristic of Mor humus forms.

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 subalpine boreal & cool mesothermal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References