Trientalis, a Latin adjective meaning “that contains a third of a foot”. Some claim this is a reference to the height of the plant which, at about 4" is about 1/3 of a foot.
borealis, from the Greek, boreios (boreios), “from the quarter of the North wind, northern”
Common name from the multi-pointed white flower.
Other common names include May Star, Star-of-Bethlehem, Trientale boréale (Qué)
Taxonomy: Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
Family Primulaceae, the Primroses
Genus Trientalis, the Starflowers
Taxonomic Serial Number: 24053
Also known as Trientalis americana
Description: A a low perennial from slender, creeping rhizomes, 4 “- 8” tall.
Leaves simple, long, narrow, and lanceolate; about ¾" wide and up to 4" long; widest in the middle, tapering to a pointed tip and narrow, stalkless or short-stalked base. Leaf edge toothless or finely toothed. Leaves borne in a single, unequal whorl of 5-9 at stem tip, with a few small, scale-like leaves below.
Stem simple, slender, and erect, hairless or with tiny glands.
Flowers white, star-shaped; ½" across, with 1-3 flowers on slender stalk rising from center of leaf whorl. Flower parts typically 7, occasionally 5 or 9.
Sepals 7, narrow and pointed
Petals 7, lance-shaped to egg-shaped with long-pointed tips
Stamens 7, with bright yellow tips
Fruit a dry, brown, spherical, 5-chambered, few-seeded capsule.
Seed ripening mid-summer and dispersed by wind.
One of the few flowers with seven petals.
single whorl of 5-9 leaves
white, star-shaped flower of 7 petals
Distribution: SE Canada and NE US, south through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, northern Georgia, and North Carolina.
Habitat: Deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forest; cedar swamps and bogs.
Dry or moist sites in sandy, acid (pH 5-6) soil with open shade.
Associates: Shrubs: Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Twinflower (Linnaea borealis), Dwarf Red Blackberry (Rubus pubescens)
Herbs: Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), Large Leaf Aster (Aster macrophyllus), Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis), Gold Thread (Coptis trifolia), Bedstraws (Galium ssp.), Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Bishop’s Cap (Mitella nuda), One Flowered Pyrola (Moneses uniflora), Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum), One Sided Pyrola (Pyrola secunda), Greenish Flowered wintergreen (Pyrola virens), Rose Twisted Stalk (Streptopus rosea), Kidney Leaf Violet (Viola renifolia), Violets (Viola spp.)
Reproduction: Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes
Pollination by Bumblebees (Bombus spp)
Seed dispersal probably by wind
Cultivation: Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
loose organic/sandy, acidic soil
medium to moist conditions
Can be very slow to establish, but spreads to form colony after several years.
I found this info through a web site search of several sites.
I found the flower in the woods behind my home in Norwood Ontario Canada. —mixed forest; cedar swamps and bogs. Very shady. Dappled sunlight.
May 29 2011.
Fuji Finepix S200 EXR Digital