The Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata L., 1753) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Menyanthaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
M. trifoliata species.
The term Menyanthes comes from the Greek μῐνΰθω minýthô vanish, vanish and from ἄνϑοϛ ánthos fiore: short flowering: reference to the early fall of the corolla.
The specific trifoliate epithet comes from the prefix tri-tre and from fólium leaf: which has only three leaves or with leaves composed of three leaflets.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Bogbean is a circum-boreal plant found in Europe, North Africa, Asia and North America.
In Europe it is present from Great Britain, Scandanavia south and as far east as Spain up to south in Africa in Morocco.
In Italy it is present in the following regions: Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise and Calabria; from 0 to 2000 m a.s.l.
Its habitat is that of wetlands and marshes, in shallow waters, on the edges of ponds, usually in acid soils. However, it is a plant that has become very rare due to the destruction of its natural habitat.
Menyanthes trifoliata is the only species of the genus Menyanthes and is a perennial, thin, aquatic plant, which is characterized by its horizontal rhizome, up to 50 cm high, anchored to the bottom of ponds and swamps by means of a long rhizomatous root .
It is a glabrous plant, with submerged stem rooting at the nodes, with internodes not very far from each other, from which long petioles develop, sheathing the stem, which allow the leaves to come out of the water.
The leaves are alternate, all basal, emerging or only partially emerging from the water, green, shiny, formed by three elliptic-obovate segments (trifoliate) with smooth or only slightly crenate margin, glaucous on the underside and with evident ribs.
The floriferous scapes are erect or ascending, shiny, fleshy and devoid of leaves.
The inflorescence is an 8-15 cm long pyramidal raceme made up of 10-20 flowers; calyx formed by 5 sepals rounded at the apex, actinomorphic, glabrous, welded together at the base (gamosepalo); corolla with 5 petals joined to the base (gamopetala), actinomorphic, campanulate, deeply lobed; lanceolate petals folded downwards, the inner surface, white in color, is densely bearded with long white hairs, the outer part of the petal is smooth, pale pink in color; superior ovary with 2 carpels, 5 filaments carry sagittate anthers of red-orange color.
The flowers are hermaphroditic and blooms from April to June.
The fruit is a 7-9 x 6-10 mm denticidal capsule, subspherical, longer than the calyx, glabrous. Seeds of 2×2.5 mm, smooth, bright, yellowish.
Menyanthes trifoliata is a perennial plant that is harvested in nature for local use as a food and source of medicines
Grow in swampy environments or in moist peaty soils or in shallow water at the edge of ponds where it prefers acidic pH conditions.
The plant can be grown in water up to 30 cm deep and does not like shade.
Plants can be very invasive, spreading by means of superficial rhizomes.
This plant is very resistant to cold and tolerates temperatures down to around -25 ° C.
Propagation can take place by seed taking care not to let the seed dry out. Sowing should be done from late winter to early spring in pots or in unheated seedbeds immersed in water. When the seedlings are large enough to handle they should be planted in individual pots and grown in tubs of water in the greenhouse for their first winter. The definitive transplant must be done in late spring or early summer, after the last foreseen frosts.
It can be multiplied by division in spring. Individual parts can be planted directly in their permanent locations if needed. However, especially with the smaller divisions it is more beneficial to pot them and grow them in a cold environment for a few weeks until they are established.
Even the cuttings taken in summer can be inserted into the mud at the side of the pond and normally root well.
Customs and Traditions –
Of the Bogbean, the leaves are used to dry in the shade at a temperature that does not exceed 50 ° C.
This plant contains the following active ingredients: a glycoside, tannin and mineral substances, especially iodine and manganese.
This plant becomes part of various pharmaceutical and herbal compositions that are used in the regulation of digestive processes, in which it helps thanks to its cholagogue action (that is, favoring the production of bile). It is also used by the liquor industry. The extract is used in cosmetics as a facial tonic.
This plant is, in general, anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, cathartic, de-obstructive, digestive, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hypnotic, stomachic and tonic.
All parts of the plant are medically active, but the leaves are the most commonly used part.
An infusion is prepared from the plant which is administered in the treatment of muscle weakness, chronic infections with weakness and exhaustion, indigestion, anorexia and rheumatism.
Taken in small doses, it gives strength to the stomach and aids digestion. Using the plant helps a person gain weight.
It is also believed to be an effective remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, especially when this condition is associated with weakness, weight loss, and lack of vitality.
Menyanthes trifoliata is usually prescribed in combination with other herbs such as celery seeds (Apium graveolens) and white willow (Salix alba).
As for contraindications, this plant should not be prescribed to patients with diarrhea, dysentery or colitis; moreover, excessive doses cause vomiting.
Menyanthes trifoliata also has edible uses. The cooked root is used, which must be prepared to get rid of an acrid taste. This process is done by drying the root, grinding it into a powder and then washing it in running water.
Unfortunately, this treatment also eliminates many of the vitamins and minerals contained in the root.
The powder can be used to make ‘missed bread’ (famine bread) and the root is an emergency food that is used in times of famine.
Preparation Method –
Menyanthes trifoliata is a plant that has mainly medicinal but also food uses.
Both the roots and the leaves are used.
The root is cooked which is prepared by drying it, grinding it into a powder and then washing it in running water.
The leaves are best harvested in late spring or early summer and dried before use.
The leaves are very bitter and are used as a substitute for hops in the production of beer as well as for the medicinal uses described above.
Finally, remember that the fresh plant causes vomiting.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.