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Indian Physic (Gillenia trifoliata)

Item #:
Ships April to May 2024
Item #:
Ships April to May 2024
Ornamental Perennials


Hardy, North American perennial
Description:  White, star-like flowers, borne in late spring with reddish stems and handsome, Astilbe-like leaves that turn shades of red in the fall
Habit:  Grows 2-3 feet high and 3 feet wide
Culture:  Prefers full sun to part shade and moist well-drained soils
Hardiness:  Cold hardy to USDA Zone 4
Origin:  North America
Attributes:  Fall color
Jefferson Documented

Late seventeenth-century naturalist, John Banister collected this plant in Virginia and sent dried specimens to England in 1688.  He later introduced it into the gardens at Fulham in 1690.  It was identified then as Spiraea opulifolia, and known commonly as "Trifoliate Virginia Meadow-sweet."  Virginia-born aristocrat William Byrd II wrote of the curative properties of Indian Physic, or "Ipecacuaha," to his colleague Sir Hans Sloane of England's Royal Society during the early 1700's.  Thomas Jefferson listed this choice, long-lived native perennial as a medicinal plant in his only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia.  It is known also as Bowman's Root. 

Indian Physic (Gillenia trifoliata) arrives in 6" pot.

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