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Thalictrum flavum0.jpg
Thalictrum flavum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Thalictrum
Tourn. ex L.

See text.

Thalictrum is a genus of 120-200 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family native mostly to temperate regions.[1]

Thalictrum is a taxonomically difficult genus with poorly understood species boundaries; it is in need of further taxonomic and field research for clarification.

Despite their common name of "meadow-rue", Thalictrum species are unrelated to the true rue (family Rutaceae), but resemble its members in having the petiole twice or thrice divided.[2]


Meadow-rues are usually found in shaded or damp locations, with a sub-cosmopolitan range throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere and also south to southern Africa and tropical South America, but absent from Australasia. It is most common in temperate regions of the world, twenty-two species are found in North America.

Leaves and flowers[edit]

The leaves are alternate, bipinnately compound, commonly glaucous blue-green in colour.

The flowers are small and apetalous (no petals), but have numerous long stamens, often brightly white, yellow, pink or pale purple, and are produced in conspicuous dense inflorescences. In some species (e.g. T. chelidonii, T. tuberosum), the sepals are large, brightly coloured and petal-like, but in most they are small and fall when the flower opens or soon after.

Chemical Constituents[edit]

Thalictrum species have been extensively studied by chemists. Typical natural products found in this genus are benzylisoquinoline alkaloids such as magnoflorine and the structurally related alkaloid berberine.[3]


Thalictrum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Setaceous Hebrew Character moth.[citation needed]

Selected species[edit]

Thalictrum flavum leaves
Thalictrum glaucum flowers
Thalictrum delavayi flowers


  1. ^ Flora of North America: Thalictrum.
  2. ^ Meadow Rue. The Century Dictionary
  3. ^ J. J. Willaman and H.-L. Liu, Lloydia (Supplement) (1970) 33 pp. 182-183.