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This woodland perennial of the Rose family blooms in early summer with white, starry flowers on wiry stems floating above green, feathery foliage. Red seed pods follow in summer, and the leaves turn gorgeous shades of yellow, red, and orange in fall. 

 

In the wild, it grows in part sun to dappled shade and dry to average soils, but it also adapts to full sun and richer soils. Established plants tolerate occasional drought. In hotter climates, the plants appreciate afternoon shade.

 

The common names Indian physic and American ipecac refer to Native Americans' custom of using the plant for internal cleansing during ceremonies. 

 

Native habitats include dry uplands, open woods, thickets, and rocky slopes. Wonderful plant for woodland and native gardens, naturalized areas, borders. and dappled-shade areas of the landscape. 

 

Plant Characteristics:

Grows 2' tall and 18-24" wide.

 

Prefers part shade. Tolerates full sun.

 

Prefers dry to average, well-drained soils, including rocky, clay, and loamy.

 

Flowers bloom May-July in small groups arising from upper leaf axils. Each flower has 5 erect sepals; 5 narrow, white, spreading petals with pointed tips; about 20 stamens; and 5 pistils.

 

Basal leaves appear much earlier than stems and are pinnately divided and fernlike. Lanceolate stem leaves are divided into 3 double-toothed leaflets. Nodes have leaflike, trifoliate stipules (leafy appendages).

 

Wildlife Value:

Attracts wide variety of pollinators. Deer resistant.

 

Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

"Ipecac" is a word referring to an emetic derived from dried roots of certain plants. Today, emetic drugs are used most often in cases of accidental poisoning.

 

Resources:

Grow Native! : https://grownative.org/native_plants/indian-physic/.

Missouri Dept. of Conservation: https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/indian-physic-american-ipecac#:~:text=Height%3A%20to%203%20feet.

North Carolina Extension Gardener: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/gillenia-trifoliata/.

 

 

 

Physic, Indian, Gillenia stipulata

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