Menyanthes trifoliata

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: bog bean 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Menyanthaceae
Native Range: Temperate Northern Hemisphere
Zone: 3 to 10
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 3-10. In water gardens, grow in containers submerged in shallow water (to 3” over the rhizome) in full sun to part shade. Best in acidic, peaty soils. Also may be grown in the shallow margins of a pond, either in containers or planted in the mud near the water’s edge. Rhizomes may spread to and root in the muddy banks of a water garden or pond, thus making this an excellent transitional foliage plant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Menyanthes trifoliata, commonly called bog bean, buckbean, or marsh trefoil, is a rhizomatous emergent aquatic perennial that typically grows in shallow water in pond/lake margins and in bogs. In North America, it is native from Labrador to Alaska south to Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia. In Missouri, it is only known from bogs in Reynolds County (Steyermark). Flower stalks and leaves rise well above the water surface from thick creeping rhizomes that spread indefinitely. Trifoliate leaves have three elliptic leaflets (to 4” long) on petioles 4-10” long. Starry, 5-petaled, hairy white flowers bloom in terminal racemes in May and June atop stems rising to 12” tall. In the wild, plants often form large colonies along shorelines and in bogs.

Genus name comes from the Greek word menyanthos meaning water. A plant mentioned by Theophrastus.

Specific epithet means three leaves or leaflets.


No serious insect or disease problems. This plant can spread aggressively when not restrained by container plantings.


Transitional plant for water gardens and ponds. Bog gardens.