The Goldthread

One little species I’ve just managed to collect seeds from, although not an easy task, is the Goldthread – Coptis trifolia.

A member of Ranunculaceae with circumboreal distribution, Coptis enjoys cooler, moist conditions in deciduous or coniferous forests and often grows on mossy bumps on the wetland edges together with other species like Medeola, Clintonia, Viola macloskeyi, Skunk cabbage…

Coptis trifolia, Goldthread; the name goldthread comes from the golden-yellow, thin rhizomes that were chewed by Native Americans to treat mouth sores, and later used as ingredients in gargles for sore throats and eye washes.

Every year I have the privilege to admire the white, rich in nectar flowers early in the spring, at the same time when Hepatica is in flower. It will put up new shiny, evergreen trifoliate leaves after is done flowering and setting seeds.

About the seeds, well, being a Fam. Ranunculaceae member I found sources saying it requires moist storage to preserve viability. I was reluctant given the small seeds to keep it that way before (plus I never had too many seeds anyway).
But going deeper into the subject, it seems that the tiny seeds contain an even tinier underdeveloped embryo.

Coptis trifolia capsules and seeds (1 mm grid)

So, in keeping with our no-DOD policy, for this season the seeds were pre-packaged in moist vermiculite and a few packets are available in the shop – Coptis trifolia.
I don’t know how well they will keep in moist storage being the first time I try, so better take advantage….

Like other Ranunculaceae with similar seed collection times and underdeveloped embryos, for best germination I recommend a warm period followed by a cold one (it is possible to require a second warm/cold cycle and germination to occur in the second year).

Coptis trifolia was first described as Helleborus trifolius by Linnaeus in 1753.  

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