Last fall I purchased 2 Bowman’s Root (Porteranthus trifoliatus or Gillenia trifoliata, depending on who  you ask), after seeing them massed beautifully outside Lurie Garden. Though it’s been less than a year, I’ve made up my mind: I definitely want more.


Bowman’s Root is a woodland plant whose native range extends from southern Ontario to Georgia, west to Arkansas. It has a mounded, bushy habit and grows 2-3′ tall.


In late spring to early summer it bears loose clusters of white flowers. The flowers are star-shaped but charmingly irregular, with longish petals that seem to be heading off each in their own direction.


I also like the mahogany stems and deep green foliage that stays clean through summer, then turns bronzy red.


This is an easy plant for part shade and medium moisture. This fall I’m going to plant another 2 or 3 Bowman’s Root so I can get more of a mass effect.

I’m already looking forward to their contribution to the garden next June.

35 Comments on “More Bowman’s Root, Please”

  1. I think this has solved a mystery… a plant turned up in my Mum‘s garden this spring and from the pictures I have seen of it this could be it! Hope you can source more of it for your garden Jason. It is really pretty.

  2. I first planted Bowman’s root about a dozen years ago. It was in too shady a spot and didn’t do well, eventually dying out. I began looking to find more, planning to use it in a sunnier location but couldn’t find it anywhere. Now it seems to be widely available and I’m using it successfully in several spots at Glen Villa. I’m sure you will be happy with a larger mass and hope you have no trouble finding more.

  3. Being the lover of white flowers that I am, this really appeals, but I must say, that foliage is especially attractive. It certainly sets off the flowers. I like the profusion of flowers combined with a sense of openness — there’s a nice balance between blooms and foliage.

  4. Hi Jason .. I am a fan of Bowman’s Root as well .. I have the white flower, as well as the pink flower one .. but something odd has happened to one of them .. it might well be my fault for having moved it too often.
    The foliage has turned a bit pale and more of a yellowing shade of green ? .. it isn’t lack of moisture but perhaps too much sun , I am wondering ? .. have you had a problem like this at all ?
    I’m feeling very guilty for moving it too many times .. I will certainly get more next Spring to make up for it because it is such a nice plant .. I just wish I knew what I did wrong for certain, so I don’t do it again !

  5. There’s something about the hap-hazard spray of flowers on this plant that makes it quite appealing. It looks lovely and reminds me a little of a sparkler. I can see why you’d want more. I’m not sure if you’d be able to propagate it from cuttings?

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