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Rare and Exceptional Plants for the
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` Porteranthus trifoliatus
Porteranthus trifoliatus
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Here's a plant that could make you...well.... vomit!! It's cousin, Porteranthus stiputatus will anyway.

What am I talking about?? Ipecac, That stuff your mother gave you by the spoonful to make you vomit after you ate something you shouldn't have or had a stomach ache. So what does this have to do with gardening??? Ipecac is made from the roots of Porteranthus.

In any event, this is a very cool and very easy to grow native plant.

Around here, you can find Porternathus trifoliatus growing wild on steep roadbanks in part sunlight to medium shade. It attains an almost shrublike stature, although it is definitely a herbaceous perennial. Formerly know as Gillenia trifoliata, it will be a wonderful addition to your mid border area, as it reaches a height of 24" - 36". I've pushed the limits from full sun to full shade and it "keeps on tickin". I think it's happiest in medium shade, as the foliage really gets dark and lustrous.

In mid June around here, it's absolutely covered with 1" - 2" whispy white flowers that persist for weeks.

Easily propagated from cuttings or seeds, you'll be able to establish a dramatic colony in short order.

As for its cousin Porteranthus stiputatus, the leaves have these little appendages on the basal ends called stipules. You can read more about this species. A very detailed description of Porteranthus trifoliatus and the plants natural history, including a comprehensive compilation of its uses by Native Americans.

There is rumor of a deep pink colored selection, supposedly selected by Dr. Dick Lighty, Director Emmeritus of the Mount Cuba Center for the Study of Piedment Plants in Greenville, DE. I haven't confirmed that yet, so stay tuned.

Just the facts M'am:
Kingdom -
Phylum - Anthophyta
Class - Dicotyledons
Subclass - Rosidae
Order - Rosales
Family - Rosaceae
Subfamily - Spiraeoideae
Genus - Porteranthus
Species - trifoliatus
Common name, genus -
Common name, species -
"Indian Physic", "Bowman's Root", "Fawn's Breath"
Synonyms - Gillenia trifoliata
Native of - Eastern US
USDA Hardiness Zone - zone 5 at least, probably 4, maybe 3
Light preference - Full shade to part sun
Soil preference - Average
Moisture preference - Average to moist
Bloom time - Mid Spring - early Summer
Bloom color - White
Foliage - Dark green
Spread - 24"36"
Height - 24"-36"
Uses - Mid border or on a burm or bank.
Medicinal uses - tonic, emetic, diaphoretic, cathartic, expectorant.

A complete set of back issues of "Glick Pick of the Week" is available for the asking. If you would like me to send them, or if you would like to, first see the list, send me an email. Also, if you're getting more than one copy of this weekly mailing, or would like to subscribe a friend, or for some crazy reason, to unsubscribe, let me know.

2001 Barry Glick and Sunshine Farm & Gardens

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Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
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Last modified February 25, 2020