Buck bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) has 3-parted green basal leaves that form off of green to pinkish fleshy stems. Their hairy white flowers bloom as early as grape hyacinths and their fleshy pink stems grow like a floating carpet. Buck bean is an easy plant to grow in water because it grows well in full sun to partial shade. Buck bean is native to much of the United States and Canada and is hardy to zone 3.
Common Names: Buck bean, buckbean, buck-bean, bog bean
Scientific Name: Menyanthes trifoliata
Sun Tolerance: Buck bean enjoys full sun to partial shade.
Planting Depth: Plant buck bean in moist soils or up to 12-16 inches of water.
Plant Size: Buck bean will grow 6 to 12 inches high and 12 to 24 inches wide.
Growing Habit: Buck bean sends rhizomes out into shallow water and muddy pond edges. Keep the plant contained in a container to restrict its size or plant it along the shore to soften the transition from your lawn to your pond or water garden edge.
Bloom color and time of year: Fragrant, star-shaped, 5 petal fringed flowers are one of the first blossoms in your pond in spring. Buck bean generally blooms for about a month from April to June depending on the conditions.
Native Status: Buck bean is native to most of the northern United States.
Benefit: Because of the buck bean’s ability to grow in multiple conditions it has many uses. Buck beans are great plants for rain gardens, large ponds and water gardens. They are the perfect plant to soften the edge of a koi pond or water garden creating a beautiful transition from land to pond. Buck bean provides small fish with areas hide underneath and frogs take a break on top of the stems. Buck bean also provides additional surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow on and takes up nutrients from the water, which helps to keep your pond clean! The leaves were sometimes used in Europe as a substitute for hops in beer brewing, and various medicinal applications such as jaundice and indigestion have been recorded.
Care: Bog bean is virtually a maintenance free plant. In water gardens it is best to trim off brown or mushy plant material during the growing season. Trim the plant back at the end of the season to prevent as much plant material from decaying in your pond over winter as possible.