Coptis trifolia (L.) Salisb.

three-leaved goldthread

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

The common name of goldthread refers to the bright orange rhizomes, used in Native American traditional medicine for treating stomach cramps and intestinal worms.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, forests, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
  • NA
  • yellow
Leaf type
the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
  • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are six petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
Stamen number
13 or more
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Fruit length
3.9–7 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Carpels fused
    the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    NA
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower diameter
    12–16 mm
    Flower number
    1
    Flower orientation
    the flower points upwards or is angled outwards
    Flower petal color
    • NA
    • yellow
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Hypanthium length
    0 mm
    Inflorescence length
    30–170 mm
    Inflorescence one-sided
    • NA
    • the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Length of peduncle
    50–150 mm
    Marks on petals
    • NA
    • there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    1–15
    Number of pistils
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6 or more
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are six petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    white
    Petal appearance
    • NA
    • the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folds or pleats
    • NA
    • the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    2–7 mm
    Petal length relative to sepals
    the petals are shorter than the sepals
    Petal nectaries
    the petals have at least one nectary
    Petal number
    5–7
    Petal shape
    the petal outline is another shape
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    NA
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    • green to brown
    • white
    Sepal length
    4–11 mm
    Sepal number
    5–7
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are slightly curved outwards from the corolla
    Sepal relative length
    NA
    Sepal shape
    • the sepal outline is eliiptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the sepal outline is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the sepal outline is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Spur number
    NA
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    Stamen number
    13 or more
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not attached to one another
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Carpel beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    2–4 mm
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    3.9–7 mm
    Fruit length relative to sepals
    NA
    Fruit locules
    one
    Fruit shape
    the fruit is ellipsoid (widest in the middle and tapering to each end)
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a follicle (has one ovary that splits along one side to release the seeds)
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit has a stipe
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed length
    1–1.5 mm
    Seed surface
    the seed has a surface characteristic other than those listed
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole edges
    NA
    Bracteole length
    0 mm
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracteole shape
    NA
    Bracteoles
    there are no bracteoles on the plant
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Floral bract texture
    NA
    Floral bracts
    the flower does not have bracts
    Flower bract length
    0 mm
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is coriaceous (has a firm, leathery texture)
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the major veins of the leaf blade branch, but do not rejoin
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf duration
    the leaves remain green all winter
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf hair orientation
    NA
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is very shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base is narrow where it attaches to the stem
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    • the leaf blade margin has forward-pointing teeth
    • the leaf has lobes that radiate from the base, somewhat like a hand
    Leaf type
    the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
    Leaf types
    NA
    Leaf variation
    NA
    Leaflet number
    3
    Leaflet petiolules
    the leaflets of the compound leaf lack petiolules
    Leaves per node
    the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant (i.e., basal)
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    the pinnately compound leaves have a terminal leaflet (and usually have an odd number of leaflets per axis)
    Specific leaf type
    • the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis
    • the leaf has lobes that radiate from the base, somewhat like a hand
    Stipels
    there are no stipels at the bases of the petiolules
    Stipule edges
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf stalk
    NA
    Stipule length
    0 mm
    Stipule shape
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • swamps
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Direction of stem hairs
    NA
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles so that it is roughly circular
    Hair between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    the flowering stem has no leaves above the base
    Length of hairs between stem nodes
    0 mm
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright or angled outwards
    Stem roughness between nodes
    • the stem does not feel rough
    • the stem feels rough due to hairs or prickles
    Stem succulence
    the stems are not succulent
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

ssp. groenlandica

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Anemone groenlandica Oeder
  • Coptis groenlandica (Oeder) Fern.
  • Coptis trifolia ssp. groenlandica (Oeder) Hultén
  • Coptis trifolia var. groenlandica (Oeder) Fassett
  • Helleborus trifolius L.

Family

Ranunculaceae

Genus

Coptis

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Coptis trifolia (L.) Salisb. N

three-leaved goldthread. Anemone groenlandica Oeder; Coptis groenlandica (Oeder) Fern.; C. trifolia (L.) Salisb. ssp. groenlandica (Oeder) Hultén; C. trifolia (L.) Salisb. var. groenlandica (Oeder) Fassett; Helleborus trifolius L. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Forests and swamps, commonly associated with evergreen trees and ascending high into the mountains.