Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bowman's-root - Gillenia trifoliata   (L.) Moench
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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Author(L.) Moench
DistributionThroughout the Mountains. Essentially throughout the Piedmont foothills and northwestern Piedmont; scattered over nearly all of the rest of the Piedmont, but possibly absent in the southeastern counties. Does not occur in the Coastal Plain or Sandhills.

This is a Eastern species, most numerous in the Appalachians and Piedmont. It ranges from NY and eastern OH south to northern GA and central AL, as well as disjunctly in AR.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains and foothills; frequent in the northwestern Piedmont, but only infrequent to locally fairly common in the rest of the Piedmont, but rare in the southeastern portions.
HabitatThis species grows in mesic to rich forests, as well as along their borders and on roadbanks. It favors acidic to somewhat circumneutral soil, and is not as restricted to high pH soils as is G. stipulata.
PhenologyBlooms from April to June, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis is a fairly tall herb, growing erectly to about 2 feet tall, with many branches. The scattered stem leaves are trifoliate, with the three leaflets being narrow, tapered to both ends, serrated on the margins, about 3 inches long, but only with tiny stipules at the base of the leaf. The similar G. stipulata has quite large stipules, leaf-like, such that the leaves appear to have three long leaflets and two short ones (at the base). These species have numerous flowers, singly atop a branch, and in this species the 5 white petals are quite narrow and the spread flower is often about 1.5 inches across. G. stipulata has slightly smaller flowers, about 1 inch across. This is a relatively easy species to see from your car, as it often grows along roadbanks or forest margins along woodland roads in the mountains, almost like a "white bush" when in full bloom. As with the other species, you should be able to identify G. trifoliata just from its leaves, and flowers are not needed for identification.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species is named as Porteranthus trifoliatus by some references.

Other Common Name(s)Mountain Indian-physic
State RankS5
Global RankG4G5 [G5]
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