Information on Bogbean

Common Name: Bogbean
Scientific Name: Menyanthes trifoliata
Irish Name: Báchrán
Family Group: Menyanthaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Bogbean is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Also known in Webb's Irish Flora (1977) as Bearnán lachan, this extremely pretty little plant loves having its feet wet. From March to June, Bogbean can be found in shallow water, fens, bogs and slow flowing water such as canals. It has short, creeping, stems – usually well below the surface of the water – and extremely attractive flowers, held in terminal racemes.  The star-shaped, pink/white flowers (15mm across) have five petals which are fringed with long white hairs and are a joy to examine through a hand-lens.  The trifoliate leaves are clearly held above the surface of the water and, like the plant, are hairless. .  It is a native, perennial plant which belongs to the family Menyanthaceae.  

I first identified this most attractive plant growing in the Grand Canal at Hazelhatch, Co Kildare in 1980 and photographed it in 2009 at Fenor Bog, Co Waterford.   

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

16th century herbalist, John Gerard, wrote that the leaves were like those of the garden bean which may explain its common name. 

Nathaniel Colgan in his Flora of the County Dublin (1904) wrote that this plant, first recorded in 1727 in Ireland, was 'a rare plant over wide areas of the county; especially abundant and luxuriant in the Royal Canal, where the submersed stems of old plants sometimes approach to 6 feet in length'.