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Gillenia trifoliata, the unknown beauty

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Do you know Gillenia trifoliata? No? That's what we thought…few people know Bowman’s root. For years we have been offering Gillenia trifoliata on our sales tables, but unfortunately this plant is rarely bought.

But when we have our “open house” in September and the visitors stroll through the nursery and our mother plant location, almost everyone stops in front of the Gillenia trifoliata and asks: "what is that beautiful plant? I didn’t know that you sell it, too?" And then we can fill up the spot on the sales table the next day.

The inconspicuous beauty

It is incomprehensible why this plant is so rarely used and promoted. It is one of our healthiest, hardiest and most durable perennials, and is despised by even the greediest snails. The sturdy, reddish stems with the tender, green foliage form a firm, upright and stable bush, which becomes more beautiful every year.

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Picture: Gillenia trifoliata - Bowman's root

In May/June, delicate, white flowers develop on intensely red calyx, which make a nice and lively contrast. In autumn, the leaves of Gillenia trifoliata turn into warm yellows and oranges, later also a coppery red colour. Due to its unobtrusive but present appearance, it is a reliable partner for semi-tall perennials and grasses, and acts as a resting pole. The ideal location for Gillenia trifoliata is partial shade, but even sunny sites are tolerated when the soil is sufficiently fresh...

Where does Gillenia trifoliata come from?

Our unknown beauty has its home in the forests of eastern North America. Among the Indians, it was known as "Indian physic" – and it was used as a laxative medicinal plant. As early as 1802, Conrad Moench – a pharmacist and botanist – described Gillenia. This is now over 200 years ago and Gillenia trifoliata still has a shadowy existence in our gardens. That is a pity and should change!

Read our last perennial story: "When should lavender be pruned?"

 

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