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Menyanthes trifoliata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Menyanthaceae (Bogbean)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres long
Bogs, fens, marshes, ponds, swamps, water.

White, 5 petals
The flowers of Bogbean are distinctive and star-shaped. They are held above the water inside dense, erect flower spikes. The flowers have white fringed petals and are covered in conspicuous white hairs. The outside of the petals are coloured pink or light red. The petals are fused and slightly funnel-shaped. 5 violet-coloured stamens. Pollinated by bees, butterflies and moths.
The fruit is a spherical, many-seeded capsule.
An aquatic perennial plant with leaves projecting to 30cm above the surface of the water in which it floats. Large trefoil leaves with broadly oval leaflets, similar in appearance to those of Broad Bean. The leaves are also alternate, long-stalked and have entire-margins.
Other Names:
Bean Trefoil, Beck Bean, Bitterwort, Bog Hop, Bog Myrtle, Bog Nut, Bog Trefoil, Brook Bean, Buck Bean, Buckbean, Marsh Clover, Marsh Trefoil, Water Shamrock, Water Trefoil.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Menyanthes trifoliata, also known as bogbean or buckbean, is a perennial flowering plant that is native to North America and Europe. It is a member of the Menyanthaceae family and is known for its clusters of white or pink flowers that are borne on tall, slender stalks above the foliage. The plant has trifoliate leaves and grows to be about 1-2 feet tall. M. trifoliata is a popular garden plant and is often used in wetland or bog gardens. It is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it prefers moist, acidic soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is attractive to pollinators and is a popular nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other insects. It is also used medicinally in some traditional cultures and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin irritation.


Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) is a unique and beautiful flowering plant native to North America, Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Buckbean family and is commonly found in wet areas such as bogs, swamps and marshlands.

One of the most striking features of Bogbean is its distinctive white or pink flowers that bloom in clusters from early spring to late summer. The plant has long, oval-shaped leaves that grow to be around 8-10 cm long, and they have a distinctive three-lobed shape, which is why the plant is often referred to as "trifoliata." The leaves are usually a rich green color and are covered in fine hairs, giving them a velvety texture.

Bogbean is a hardy plant that is able to grow in difficult conditions where other plants would struggle. It is a nitrogen-fixing plant, which means it can help to improve the fertility of the soil it grows in. This makes it an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking to improve the soil in their garden or who are looking to create a wetland habitat.

The plant is also known for its medicinal properties, and the roots and leaves of the plant have been used by Native Americans and other indigenous cultures for centuries. It is believed to have been used as a remedy for a wide range of health problems, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin conditions.

In the garden, Bogbean is an excellent choice for adding interest to a water feature or creating a natural looking wetland area. It is also well-suited to planting in containers, and it can be grown as a marginal plant in a pond. As long as it is grown in a damp or wet soil, the plant is easy to care for and will thrive.

Aside from its ornamental and medicinal uses, Bogbean also plays an important role in the ecosystem. As a wetland plant, it helps to provide habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, beavers, muskrats, and other wetland-dependent species. The plant's roots also help to prevent soil erosion, making it an important stabilizer in areas prone to flooding or heavy rain.

In addition, Bogbean is an important plant for wetland restoration projects. It is often used as a pioneer species to help establish new wetland habitats, as it is able to tolerate difficult growing conditions and can help to improve the soil for other wetland plants to establish themselves.

It is also worth noting that Bogbean is a long-lived plant and can live for many years in the right conditions. Once established, it will spread to form colonies and create an attractive, lush display in the garden or in the wild.

To grow Bogbean in your garden, it is important to choose a suitable location that has consistently damp or wet soil. It is best to plant it in the spring, when the soil is moist, and to mulch the soil around the plant to help maintain a consistently damp soil level.

In summary, Bogbean is an important and versatile plant that has a variety of uses and benefits. From its ornamental beauty, to its medicinal properties, to its role in the ecosystem, Bogbean is a plant that deserves recognition and appreciation. If you're looking to add a unique and beautiful plant to your garden or to improve the quality of your local wetland, Bogbean is definitely a plant worth considering.

Bogbean is also a good choice for water garden enthusiasts, as it will thrive in shallow water or in soil that is consistently moist. It is a great plant for creating a natural-looking water garden and can be combined with other water plants such as water lilies, irises, and cattails to create a diverse and attractive display.

Another interesting aspect of Bogbean is its ability to purify water. It acts as a natural filter by removing excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and other pollutants from the water, helping to improve the overall quality of the water in a wetland or pond. This makes it an important plant for managing water resources and restoring degraded wetlands.

In terms of cultivation, Bogbean is relatively low maintenance and requires little attention once established. It is important to make sure the soil is kept consistently moist, but it is not necessary to fertilize the plant. In fact, over-fertilizing can lead to excessive growth and reduce the plant's effectiveness in removing pollutants from the water.

Bogbean is also relatively pest and disease-resistant, making it a great choice for gardeners who want to minimize the need for chemical treatments in their garden. However, it is important to watch for any signs of fungal infections or insect damage, especially in areas with hot and humid summers.

In conclusion, Bogbean is a truly remarkable plant that offers a wealth of benefits and uses. Whether you are looking to add beauty to your garden, improve the quality of your local wetland, or create a natural-looking water garden, Bogbean is a plant that is sure to impress.


Bogbean filmed at Foulshaw Moss in Cumbria on the 13th May 2023.


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