Porteranthus trifoliatus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Indian physic 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, humusy soils. Somewhat difficult to establish.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Porteranthus trifoliata, common called Indian physic or Bowman's root, is an upright, clump-forming, somewhat bushy perennial which typically grows 2-3' (less frequently to 4') tall. A native plant to the eastern and southern United States (including Lawrence County, Missouri). Features masses of slender, 5 petaled, star-like, white flowers (1" across) held in loose corymbs on wiry, branching, distinctively red stems in late spring to early summer. Attractive red calyces persist after petal drop. Trifoliate, almost stalkless leaves feature oblong, serrated, olive-green leaflets (1.5-4") which turn red in fall. Sold both as Gillenia trifoliata and Porteranthus trifoliatus.

Genus name honors Thomas Conrad Porter (1822-1901), American botanist.

Specific epithet refers to the trifoliate (3-parted) leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Probably needs support.


Interesting plant for the border or native plant garden. Mass to take advantage of the airy effect of the bloom. Attractive red foliage in autumn.