My home garden is in Monroe, Ohio. Officially in USDA hardiness zone 6a, we still, however briefly, have hit zone 5a lows in winters not to distantly past. The soil in my immediate vicinity is Eden silty clay. In many local developments, the good stuff has been scraped away and sold off as topsoil to some other poor schmuck who also had THEIR upper soil horizons scraped away. Whatever we had upon our arrival has been amended with horse manure, coir, and compost. There is no bed in my yard that couldn’t have been amended some more.

23 February 2013

Bowman's root

One might almost mistake a well-established Porteranthus trifoliatus (also known as Gillenia trifoliata), or Bowman's root, for a dainty shrub.

In the part shade cast by a sweet-gum (which is much hated by my wife) to the south side of our house, this perennial throws up around a dozen wiry reddish stems that top out, with flowers, at around two feet.

Porteranthus trifoliatus

This specimen sits near the end of a run of perforated drain pipe, which while I wouldn't classify the area as being generally moist, it's better off than many other areas in the yard. In any case, the plant is doing well enough that I have found seedlings of it in the general area.

A flush of five-petalled white flowers appears some time between mid-May and early June.
As the specific epithet trifoliatus suggests, the leaves are in threes (three leaflets, really).

More blooms may appear sporadically over the remaining growing season.
Fall color is uncommon for most (but not all!) perennials. Porteranthus trifoliatus usually turns a nice, if not showy, yellow. One possible benefit to the challenging weather conditions we've experienced the past few years is that stress sometimes, in some plants, results in greater accumulations of the compounds that give us great fall colors. That's the only explanation I have for the one year that this plant colored like this:

Orange pushing toward red, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Bowman's Root is now on my must grow list after reading your article. Great job Paul!