A low, herbaceous plant with a slender or filiform bright-yellow, bitter rootstock. Leaves all basal, evergreen, long petioled, the blade reniform, 1 to 2 inches broad, divided to the petiole into three wedge-shaped, obtuse segments, dark green, shining above, paler beneath, sharply toothed. Scape one-flowered, slender; sepals five to seven, oblong, obtuse, white; petals small and club-shaped; carpels three to seven, spreading, about one-fourth of an inch long, on stalks of about their own length, tipped with a beak.

In damp, mossy woods and bogs, Newfoundland to Virginia and eastern Tennessee, Iowa, Minnesota and Alaska.

Plate 60

A. Goldthread

A. Goldthread - Coptis trifolia

In the Memoirs of Bastram and Marshall, page 20, it is stated that John Ellis, the eminent naturalist, in a letter to Linnaeus, dated London, April 25, 1758, says: " Mr Colden of New York, has sent Dr Fothergill a new plant, described by his daughter (Miss Jane Colden). It is called Fibraurea, gold thread. This young lady merits your esteem and does honor to your system. She has drawn and described 400 plants in your method only. She uses the English terms. Her father has a plant called after him, Coldenia; suppose you should call this Coldenella, or any other name that might distinguish her among your genera." Linnaeus, however, referred the plant to his genus Helleborus, and when it was subsequently ascertained to be distinct, Salisbury, regardless alike of gallantry and justice, imposed on it the name of Coptis.